Hello friends (yep, I’m corny now).
I had a full day of teaching two cooking lessons back to back kindergarteners for the first round and 1st-5th grade the second.
Yep, still effective birth-control!
Thank goodness it’s cooled down a bit in the LA area. Yesterday I had my kids practically melting faster than the marshmallows in their quesadilla. I forgot my camera so no cool pic of their culinary concoctions, but don’t worry, you didn’t miss much.
Speaking of culinary things, I realized I don’t write a lot about my year in culinary school very often. And I actually get a lot of questions about my experience there and how it interfered with my eating disorder.
First, I’ll address the culinary school as a whole. Many “foodie” bloggers always write about how they wish they could go. Honestly, I think if your that passionate about food, its totally worth it. Believe me, you’ll get so much more out of anything you choose to learn if you are truly passionate and connected to what you are learning. Hence I never did well in chemistry or Pre-Calculous.
I was a straight A student in culinary school, and believe me, it was not easy. I’m not an idiot, well, what I mean is, I got pretty ok grades in high school, I went to a good college. Culinary school was harder than college. Not only do you have to know your math (its not just measuring and weighing ingredients, you have to know yield percentages and menu costing), but there is history, english, and even psychology courses. The good news is, if you studied those courses in college, your off the hook in those in culinary school.
Mind you, when I’m talking about culinary school, I’m not talking about a bunch of cooking lessons. What I did was an AA degree in Culinary Arts program.
Besides the academic classes you are required to take, you also must actually have hands on cooking time. Usually, five hours a day.
There were three slots where you could do these five hours. 6am-11am (hell no I didn’t do that one! The thought of making reductions at 7am made me cringe), 12pm-5pm, and 6pm-11pm. I chose the 6pm slot.
A typical class was like this:
There was a 40 min or so lecture, depending on the course (for example, if it were a Intro 1 course, it was probably about something simple like the anatomy of an egg). A demo for the dishes of the day which was about 30 min, and then maybe two or so hours to make those dishes, turn them into the chef, let him taste and grade it, and clean up.
I can’t emphasize the “clean up” part enough. You clean, and clean, and clean, and clean. Thats why I’m really good with using as little utensils as possible, less stuff to dirty, less stuff to clean. Instead of putting flour into a cup and brining it back to your station only to pour it into a mixing bowl, I’d simply pour it in saran wrap. I then would twist it into a little flour package, and simply make a hole and dump it into the bowl when I needed to. No need to clean a stupid cup for “holding” my flour.
Anyhow, each semester was six weeks long. There was a quiz every week which would alway include something written, and perhaps a knife skills quiz. Knife skills was about precision when chopping. We used potatoes because they are cheap (because we never ate what we practiced for the knife cutting), and we had to cut it into certain shapes and sizes. And they had to be pretty exact (you wonder why chefs are OCD). For example, a “bruinoise” cut was an 1/8x 1/8 x 1/8 cube. Yep, it was the tiniest and I found it actually the easier ones. The slightly larger dices can get tricky. I actually was pretty terrible with knife cuts. I did better in math than in knife skills. I killed me, because sometime, the most unimaginative students would get good grades because they were good at cutting. While their food was bland and boring.
Anyhow, if your wondering about the cost of culinary school, I’ll warn you it aint cheap. But then again, no school is cheap. The good news is there are lots of financial aid plans available and loads of scholarships. There are so many scholarships that simply require you to write a simple essay, and they in turn give you 300 or so dollars towards your education. I know it doesn’t seem like much, but like I said, there are LOADS of scholarships and I knew a girl in my class who paid for the school just by collecting that scholarship money. My point is, if you really want to go, money should not stop you, and it’s still cheaper than a year at harvard.
Plus, its very easy to get well paying gigs while your in culinary school. Many caterers need help with prep work and will usually pay 13-16 bucks per hour for the help of culinary students. And once you graduate, you can always demand more of course.
Also…….you don’t have to aspire to become a chef to go to culinary school! I knew from the beginning I didn’t want that. I knew I wanted to work with food in some way, but I was leaning more towards recipe development and food writing, like for “gourmet” or “saveur”. Some people in my class were over 50, and they simply had it with working in a corporate setting and wanted to immerse themselves in their passion.
Once again, it comes down to passion. Are you passionate about food. beyond just eating? Does cooking science intrigue you, does the art spark your imagination? If so, I think you would love culinary school, and I recommend you attend.
But that being said, I’d like to address the fact that I was still very much in my eating disorder while attending. I was running or walking about three hours a day, eating very little thought the day, and “bingeing” on “safe” foods at night when I got home from school. I did taste me food, always (a good chef should!), but I never ate a significant amount. With all the manual labor of culinary school AND the exercise I was doing, I resembled a holocaust victim. But I think culinary school kept me alive in some way. It felt good to be good at something besides my eating disorder. I used to think loosing weight or controlling it was the only thing I amounted to. But when chefs would try my food and “mmmmm…..” at what I made, even when all the other students were doing the same recipe, it felt good. It felt better than thinness, better than running, and maybe better than eating. That being said, a lot of eating disordered people like feeding the world while they neglect themselves. I’m guilty of that.
Thankfully, these days I always make myself things! Hell, the whole blog is mostly things I make for my self! It feels really good to make myself something nourishing, and eating the “fruits” of my labor!
Sorry, no recipe today….will have a great one tomorrow!
And from last week……The winner of the Crofters Jam giveaway is…….Astrid! Congrats!
Stay tuned for I’ll do a “You wanna go to treatment” post!