Culinary School: Week 1

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It took me a moment to absorb the image that was reflecting from the mirror. I was standing in the ladies room at Cincinnati State and was looking at myself for the first time in full uniform. I had known for a year that this moment was coming, yet I couldn’t quite identify the person looking back.

In my own corner of the world, I was already a good cook. I started a food blog that centered around this very idea. So, was I seriously about to walk into a room and subject myself to the possibility of failure? Standing there, trying hopelessly to tie a “neckerchief,” I wondered what exactly I was doing.

I made my way down the hall to a small, industrial classroom and sat down. I realized, suddenly, that there would be no more wondering about how this experience was going to shake out — it was all right there in front of me. 9 men, 7 women, 1 instructor, 8 tables, 1 large television, and 16 knife sets. Once I swallowed my nervous gulp, I became filled with the overwhelming feeling that I was in the right place.

The Journey Begins

We toured the kitchen, learned about the proper way to use the dish sink, where to find cutting boards and spices and how to hold a knife. Our instructor informed us that Mondays would be spent in the classroom. There, we’d have lecture, discuss and go over PowerPoints. Wednesdays would be in the kitchen and that is where we would learn knife skills, practice basic vinaigrette assembly, and do lots of egg cookery.

Come to find out, homework is a necessary evil in cooking school. If you’re a working gal like myself, it’s done in odd morning hours, late evenings and on Saturdays. It’s basically a lot of reading, workbook questions, a few research papers and quite a few production sheets (sheets that outline equipment, ingredients and procedures necessary for executing recipes).

I am also taking another class this term called “Safety and Sanitation,” but it was canceled due to snow. All I know about it so far is that it’s completely lecture based. And judging from the 2 chapters I read from the textbook, it also builds a very strong case for washing your hands.

I imagine more stress, confusion, happiness, doubt and triumph loom somewhere out there on the horizon. Thanks to your interest (aren’t you sorry you asked?), I’ll be dragging you along every step of the way.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

rainie February 15, 2010 at 11:06 am

I personally am very excited to hear every detail of your venture inside your passion. There is little more gratifying than that light one sees in another’s eyes as they discuss doing what they love. So much awesomeness!

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Barb February 15, 2010 at 11:08 am

This is going to be fun!

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Matt February 15, 2010 at 11:18 am

It’s great to hear about the first week, congrats on the new adventure!

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Chris S February 15, 2010 at 11:19 am

I sure do remember that experience well :) It will be a fun and rewarding journey, so long as you don’t lose your love of food and making good food. For me, I lost my passion (for working in a professional kitchen) after the first real kitchen job I had as my summer intern position and I realized that there was no room for any creativity at that level, and that it would be years and years of not being creative before I got to be creative again. Its still exciting to see and hear about other people digging in, and giving it a go! Bon chance, and don’t lose any fingers! (Knife skills drills can be dangerous ;))

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Courtney February 16, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Chris, I know the cooking industry is filled with stories of long hours and low pay. And truthfully, I don’t know where this path is going to lead but I will say that I’m tossing around the idea of catering. Time will tell but I am honored you stopped by to give my post a read.

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5chw4r7z February 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm

I’m already enjoying the crap out of it.
Can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Jen February 16, 2010 at 9:17 am

I can’t wait to hear more!

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Lindsey February 18, 2010 at 7:49 am

ServSafe is absolutely all about hand-washing. As far as the prep sheets and workbook, pick trustworthy students and band together to divide up the work; we’re all busy and it helps so much. I’ve been in the same study group since cooking 1, we email everything weekly, and I would have never been able to get it all done without them. I’m excited to see how your time here goes; I know I was more than pleasantly surprised.

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Sophia February 18, 2010 at 4:17 pm

I loved reading this entry and look forward to hearing about every step of the way. Catering is big business and a FABULOUS way to earn $$ from what I’ve heard and read. Course it’s hard work but you can choose the jobs. Good luck!:)

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Lauren February 19, 2010 at 9:13 am

I’m excited for you and living vicariously through your posts! :)

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Courtney February 22, 2010 at 11:59 am

Thank you, Lauren!

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