Sunday, October 12, 2008
Here we go...
Before beginning culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America I had this lofty idea of an elaborate blog that I would tend to every day so family and friends could see what I was learning and feel like they were part of my experience. Now, six months into the program it seems I took that little gem of an idea and threw it to the back burner without any remorse. I don't know why now is the time, but I want to give this blog thing a shot and see how it goes. I will talk about school and all things related to food hoping it can give you a little bit of an idea of what it's like living amongst some of nations most intense foodies. Oh and foodies they are....and I admit, I'm slowly becoming one.
After six months I finally feel like I'm in the groove of things on campus and know enough people here to feel like it's home...or maybe it just feels like a temporary home.
I go to school with the same 14 people every single day. We used to have 16 but one dropped out early on from not appreciating all of the "in classroom" time we had and the other dropped out after Skills II... if you're interested in the story ask me another time. It's kind of a good one.
I also live with students from school in an off-campus housing unit, 4 of those students being in my class. By this point we're like family with all the normal ups and downs. You can't live with them and you can't live without them. It's funny really. I remember thinking four months ago that we had reached this family place but now, looking back, it blows my mind how much all of our relationships have changed from being around one another so much. It's weird how much we see each other.
So about this family...yes, I've had arguments and yes even when I really really don't want to deal with someone I still have to go to class with them for eight hours and work with them in the kitchen. This isn't the most challenging part of my experience but I would say it's up there in the top five reasons my time here has been the most challenging time of my life. We have some very unique personalities in my class and the dynamic between us all is quite interesting.
My school-day is supposed to be from 2-8pm, which it was, in the beginning, before we entered the kitchen. Now I get to school around noon and usually don't get out of there before 9pm. Lately I've been working with various chefs before school and have needed to be there between 7 and 8am. Shoo dang that takes a toll on you. I do like it though. It's funny because I always think I can push myself to the limit, work and go to school and not get much sleep and start drinking espresso to keep myself awake. Then all of a sudden I notice my body fighting me. Just the other day I felt sick all class, went home, collapsed onto my bed, was out by 10:15, called in sick to work at 7:30 the next morning and was completely comatose until 11:30am. I felt like my body was screaming, "give me rest!!!! I'm gonna make you REALLY sick if you don't do this for me." So, now I feel great after sleeping almost 12 hours on a regular school night. Who does that anyway?
Just to be a little more specific about my day.....
When I say 12-9 what I really mean is I get to school by 12, eat lunch, chat a bit with everyone, go to the computer lab and print homework and whatever else I need, go and talk to the chef or anyone else I need to see, grab my class' mail to distribute, make sure I have all my recipe cards done and begin thinking of getting into the kitchen setting up my station and gathering mise en place (a phrase for ingredients and supplies for a given recipe) for the day between 1 and 1:30. By 2 everyone should be set in the kitchen with produce and meat brought up from receiving downstairs. Our knives should be set out and sharpened and we should have a game plan of what we're doing that day. We go into the classroom at this point and have lecture, usually lasting until 3:30 at which point we return to the kitchen and start our daily production. By 6:30 we need to have a "demo plate" for our chef and to present to the rest of the school to showcase what we will be serving that night and at 7 we begin taking orders and busting out dishes for other students and faculty. We're in groups of three in the kitchen that we're not able to choose and that we're either lucky to have or "stuck with" for the entire three week class we're in. It's a rush. I'm pretty much exhausted every night and though I think of fun things early in the day to do after class each night I usually abandon them by the time I get back to the lodge because all I want to do is sit down and not talk for awhile.
So that's my life in a strange strand of paragraphs. It's a brief overview but I hope it gives some sort of picture for you. I don't know why I decided to begin my blog with such detail. I just felt like those who I haven't spoken with much about school would need a little background to understand what I'm talking about for the rest of my posts.
So now that the boring stuff is out of the way...
here we go!