So I mentioned I am going to culinary school, right? I’m working s.l.o.w.l.y on a certificate program. I suppose maybe some of you would like to know what it’s like? Well, I’m hoping to chronicle a bit about it, so here goes nothin’:
Question: Should you wear your uniform on day one?
The answer to that is yes, you should. And you should have your jacket buttoned to the top. How do I know this? Well, I managed to get yelled at approximately 20 minutes PRIOR to my first class because the top button of my jacket was not fastened and I dared walk in the cafeteria past a discerning Chef. The horror! Shoot, I wasn’t even really sure how to put the thing on at that point. You should also have your neckerchief tied properly (hint: it should be a Windsor knot. In today’s “business casual” work environment, 90% of my class was Windsor knot noobs).
Question: Who goes to culinary school?
Answer: Well, I can only answer about my particular class. We seem to have an astonishingly high number of people who work in the Finance industry. I suppose that makes sense because, especially in this economy, who else can afford it? Anyway, I’m just going to leave it at that before my flaming liberal ways get me in trouble. Let’s say the majority of the class is over 40, white, male and in their second career. Add in a handful of white females, a couple of African-American students, one Asian female and a Hispanic male and you’d have my class. I suppose it’s relatively diverse for such a small group.
Question: What’s the instructor like?
Answer: Your instructor is called Chef. As in, “yes, Chef, I will keep my fingers curled under so I don’t chop them off” or “no, Chef, I am not the jag who dumped the potatoes in the sanitation sink”. Our Chef is quite a bit like Conan O’Brien – both in looks and his penchant for cracking jokes.
Question: This is cooking school, don’t I get to eat in class?
Answer: Yeah…not really? Unless you have a utensil to get the food to your mouth. Otherwise forget it. You put your finger in your mouth, you wash your hands. You scratch your face, you wash your hands. Got it?
So on my first day, I had a light snack before my 5 hour class. By the time we got to the kitchen, I was pretty hungry. Standing up listening to more lecture while all the stove burners and broilers were lit and there was no air circulating, I started to feel faint. I looked around; wasn’t anyone else hot? Sweat on their brow? On the verge of passing out? Am I the ONLY ONE who thinks it is unbearable?? I had to get down on the ground and wait for it to pass. Thankfully, at that point Chef excused us to start working. I immediately bee-lined for the bathroom to splash cold water on my face. Another student joined me who was having the same problem. And of course, neither of us had eaten before class…
Moral of the story? Eat before class!
Question: What do you learn in the kitchen on the first day?
Answer: We learned how to hold a knife (thankfully, I already do that right) and the “claw” grip (something I’ve never gotten the hang of…but I’m getting it now). We cut stuff. Potatoes and carrots. We julienned and made batonnets. Small dice. Brunoise.
Wanna learn? Head over to where I learned it all many years ago on egullet. This is a seriously fabulous step by step instruction on knife skills and practically mimics what we learned in class.
Stay tuned for more excitement on Day two…
Ms. Pantry Raid