International Culinary Center – Finishing up
It’s looming large now, my final exam in culinary school at the International Culinary Center. It’s so close, that I can count down towards it in terms of loads of laundry that I need to do in order to have at least one clean uniform available for exam day. I’ve strategized just how much more industrial-strength stain remover I need to have on hand to wash everything and how much money to put on my laundry card to carry me through to the big day.
Since taking the Culinary Techniques course there last summer and then making the decision to take the placement exam to pursue the professional Classic Culinary Arts program, it has been a wild ride. Some of it has been great – like the thrill at passing my mid-term examination with high marks – and some of it has been frustrating – constantly being told I’m too slow by my chefs. In some ways, it has been more challenging than all of my previous educational endeavors combined. That includes getting my Master’s Degree from the top school in my field and having to take oral examinations in order to get my M.A. (twenty minutes being quizzed by two examiners to determine passing or failing at the end of two years of study, oh, and a separate language proficiency exam on top of that to boot).
On Wednesday night last week, before we hit the kitchen at L’Ecole for class session, our group assembled with our chef instructors for our official class photo. It will hang someplace on a wall along with the photos of countless other classes of shiny, new ambitious culinary school graduates from our program. In touring the school, you can still see pictures of the first graduating class, which included Bobby Flay. How cool is that? Who will be the next Bobby Flay, Christina Tosi, Wylie Dufresne, David Chang, or Lee Anne Wong among us? There’s some pretty serious talent among my classmates so I’ll be curious to see how our careers evolve.
I have in mind to write a few other posts about what it is like to be in culinary school, really. It’s complicated, and I have such mixed emotions being almost at the end of it all. There’s so much to say good, bad, ugly (some of that in the dishes that I plated), happy, sad, really a bit of everything. Along the way, there have been cuts, burns, mystery scrapes, stained uniforms (how am I going to get that out of my jacket?), and lots and lots of food. Three evenings a week for five hours each class night plus lots of volunteering and taking on extra kitchen shifts for practice and to refine my skills (and to work on that little timing/speed problem that still haunts me) have meant lots of missed drinks dates, uncelebrated birthdays, canceled plans, and late nights / early mornings. Would I change it? Would I do it again? I’ll let you know when I pass my final exam.