It has been awhile since I’ve had a chance to write on my blog which I miss terribly. But since enrolling in culinary school, and working in the industry, it feels like I’m constantly putting out fires (literally) which leaves little time for the finer things in life – like writing about food. I’m sure that things will settle down eventually but for now, I thought I would manage to squeeze in an entry.
There are days, now that I’m working in a commercial kitchen and away from a cushy desk job, that I wonder what made me decide to go on this adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving culinary school. The classes are great and the teachers are excellent. But school is very different from the real world. I am actually learning loads more by working at a catering company than I would if I were simply just going to cooking school. I don’t mind the intensity and how busy it can get in the kitchen. I actually like the feel of a chef’s knife in my hand and working the grill and ovens but it’s the lifestyle that goes with it. Long hours, spending the entire day on your feet and the fact that you will often (if not always) be working evenings, weekends and holidays. Basically, you are working when everyone else isn’t.
In this week’s butchery class, the reason for going on this adventure came flooding back to me. This week we covered seafood – how to fillet and prepare fish, mussels and shrimp. It was during a trip to Paris (which I blogged about – surprise, surprise) that I first learned how to fillet a fish. The trip ended up being one of the pivotal moments that set me off on this culinary adventure. Except at Le Cordon Bleu, we had to clean the fish as well (guts and all). So you can say it was a truly authentic experience (and not quite as watered down as you would expect since the course was geared towards tourists).
I took away a lot from that trip to Paris. The outdoor markets, the full service butcher shops, the affordable price of cheese and the amazing selection of butter. I really appreciate the pride that the French have for their food products and their established food culture and behaviours.
My reason for going to culinary school isn’t to become an executive chef. It’s to learn more about food and to gain an appreciation of everything that goes into it – at a professional level. Which is something that I can only do by going through the paces. Having said that, the amount of insight I have gained so far is huge! It’s like a whole other world (with a completely different philosophy compared to nutrition and dietetics).
Where do I think I’ll end up?
I’ve worked a lot with social, health and food security programs so I definitely have a certain philosophy and perspective when it comes to food. As a result, working at a fancy, upscale restaurant isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when people ask me what I plan on doing when I graduate. So much of my background has been around making sure people have access to food or managing their diet for their health, well-being and recovery so I’ll probably be doing something that extends beyond feeding Bay Street bankers.
But we’ll see. So far, I’ve enjoyed learning about this side of food. One of the things they keep telling us in culinary school is to “keep an open mind”.