Day Three of Culinary School

It was Day Three and it feels like Week Three because of how much is going through my mind. It’s a good thing – life is filled with possibility.

Knife to Meet You!

Ah, knife skills day one! This most basic of chef talents was something I didn’t expect so soon, but I welcomed it with enthusiasm. Chef Rosa is a terrific instructor and so positive! She strikes a great balance by upholding standards but also showing lots of flexibility and encouragement. One thing that struck me was that she said it took her three years to feel fully comfortable with knife skills in a professional culinary setting, which is to say that we all have a lot to learn. Everyone took their time striving for the ideal battonet and large dice cuts – it’s much harder than you’d think because each cut requires fairly specific dimensions (e.g., a proper julienne is .125 in x .125 in x 2.0 in.).

Below: Vegetables for the choppin’! These were prepared by one of the kitchen assistants – a recent graduate who is working on her assisting hours for the school.

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Below: I didn’t get any shots of my lovely julienned carrots or diced potatoes, but here are some pretty green celery bits.

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Below: Oops…there was one casualty of knife skills 101 – I put a tiny cut on my index finger while wiping my knife, of all things.

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Afternoon Session

In the afternoon, Chef Alex covered culinary brigade structure, which includes standard roles such as chef and sous-chef, but also roles we will have during our school experience. During our time at The Natural Epicurean, we will sometimes break into groups of 4 students, with each group member taking a specific role on that class’ project. So, on a given day I might get to be the head of the group (sous-chef is what we’ll call it), and the others will have other important parts to play. The next time, I will rotate into another role.

Chef Alex is a natural speaker and she’s quite entertaining without being overboard or distracting from the material. She would be great on TV, of which she’s apparently done some, because she definitely lets her personality show. That is actually a trait I see in each of the staff members and teachers at the school. I feel like everyone is being truly authentic in each moment with little pretense. I loved when Chef Alex reminded us to continue stoking our passions for food and health. For me, this blog is something that helps keep that alive for me. Woo!

Later we explored our leadership styles by breaking into four groups according to our natural personality tendencies. I chose the one titled “possibility,” which was a group characterized by the enjoyment of exploring what options are available and encouraging input from others. We each spoke a bit about our personality types and how they connect to our current situation of being culinary students. One challenge I feel I have as a member of the “possibility” group is that I have a lot of ideas but don’t always know how to make them happen. And deciding on a course of action can be tough, too, because all of the possibilities seem so interesting.

Below: Student Services Coordinator Leanne Valenti (right), facilitates the leadership compass exercise.

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Below: Chef Alex talks about the ten culinary commandments at The Natural Epicurean.

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