Thursday, September 30, 2010

I Spoke too Soon

Phase 2, Week 1, Day 2

Boy, if I was every wrong about something, this may have been it. I’ve waited several days to write this post because I was not sure how to handle it. With each day that passed, things got worse. We’ll just say I have a personality conflict with the 2 chefs that teach my regular class. The problem is, I’m not the only one. It seems that about half the class has a personality conflict. I’ve decided not to name them here because I don’t want to implicate them. They may have outstanding chef credentials but it is evident they maybe teaching in the classroom is not their forte. We’ll just call them…. Ava and Adolph (thanks Jeremy L). I hope I don't offend anyone. It's more of a coping mechanism than anything.

As soon as I walked in the room, the boys were on me complaining how much day one sucked. I thought it couldn’t be that bad, right? We started off with a lecture on stock in which Adolph had a student, Rachel, come to the white board and be his “Vanna” and write the lecture notes for him. Ok, weird, but no biggie.

We broke into small groups and made fish fumet (fish stock). Things when along pretty well until Ava and Adolph began contradicting each other on some simple directions for the class. This caused a bit of frustration for students when we began to do something as instructed only to be given contradicting directions a few minutes later. Ok, again, no big deal. But definitely a different working partnership than our last class.

After cleaning up, we had a quiz over Le Cuissons and the mother sauces and their thickeners.  AHHHH!!!! What’s with the pop quizes on week one!? But I survived, only to have Ava drill the answers into our heads for the remaining 30 minutes of class. Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention this class is 30 minutes longer than last phase. Awesome.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Foundations II

Phase 2, Week 1, Day 1

One Phase down five to go.  Foundations II is a bit more aggressive than Foundations I. I guess, I would hope it would be, after all I’m not paying all this money to hang out and do knife cuts for 3 hours a day. We opened up class with intros to the class and the new instructor, Chef Kim (I am still attending the night class on Mondays with approval from both Chef instructors). I like Chef Kim, she is very energetic and you can see she enjoys teaching. She has a background in cooking and management of several area chain restaurants. She brings to the table the experience that most of my fellow classmates will have. Large scale casual dining. She is also able to add the full picture for both the front and back of the house, which is very helpful.

In this class we will focus on calculating basic ratios and yields, produce stocks, primary and secondary sauces, demonstrate vegetable, starch, and egg cookery and display fresh pasta making.  That’s a lot for six weeks. We didn’t waist any time and jumped right in making veal stock. Once we were done with that task and the pots were simmering away, we had a test. I know! A test! It was a knife skill assessment. We had 10 minutes to complete four tourne, 10 battonet, 10 jullian. I finished the battonet, jullian and two tourne. Not too bad. We finished the night cleaning. Basically doing the deep cleaning that didn’t get done by the classes from the last session.  After day one this class seemed to be ok!

Knife Cut Assessment 

Sunday, September 26, 2010

On the Line

I'm not sure if I'll continue to write about both my days at work and at school. Maybe if something interesting happens at work I'll throw it in. In this occasion, something interesting did happen. I reported for my second day on Thursday. Before I even showed up at work, I had had three hours of class beginning at 6:00 am, a practical exam, 1.5 hours of cleaning the school kitchen. I then returned home to help my mom move.Yup she's moving and I am in need of a new place to stay during the week- just another twist in the road... So, I spent the next four hours packing and moving furniture and then I went to work at 2:00 pm.

The kitchen was much busier on this day than it was last Saturday night. Apparently in addition to regular service we had three banquets. I was giver to one of the other prep cooks, Collin, to help him prepare his list of items. Collin was pretty new too but obviously has lots of industry experience. We began making tomato, basil, and mozzarella mini quiche. That actually went pretty well and I was complemented on my finished product. Then it went to hell in a hand-basket.....

I'm not even sure I can describe everything, I did or exactly what I did for the remaining 6.5 hours. I got pulled in so many different directions I couldn't keep everything straight. I would be given a project but then the project had to cool and then given something else and I'd forget to go back to the original project because I'd been moved to a different kitchen for banquet service. I had a great deal of difficulty keeping track of where all the projects were in their process because everything was moving so fast and things weren't always were you left them. To top all that off, I was assigned to help the Garde Mange (Pantry Chef) on the line for dinner service. He apparently had thrown his back out on Monday and this was his first day back at work. So no big deal, right? I can do some salads and appetizers. WRONG! First thing, foermost, he is a pompous arse. He also has no idea how to give instruction or direction. He just belittled me for going to school to learn how to cook and "what are they teaching you at that school" kind of crap. I just smiled and did what he told me as best as I could. The salads simple and wonderful and the appetizers were works of art. I only got a few of them right and had to redo several of them because they weren't up to his standard. Christoph kept checking in on us from the main dish line and encouraged us to be faster, this made Mr. Grumpy Pants very agitated and he told me to stop smiling, this wasn't funny. Lucky for me the banquet staff came through the kitchen and called me to duty. Thank God!!

I got called back a few times to help Mr. Grumpy Pants out. In between those times I heard several people comment on him, and how if anyone deserved to be in a lot of pain, it was him. This somehow made me feel better about myself. However, I will take his "suggestions" to heart and work on my speed and also thinking about the process of a task a few steps a head so you are prepared when it arrives.

When all was said and done, I left the Club at 9:45 pm and headed to a hotel to crash. Woof!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

St. Louis Club

I started my "industry" job last Saturday. I am basically working on call part-time for the banquet department. I am hoping to get a ton of knowledge through this experience since this is supposed to be one of the best kitchens in town and their product is really amazing.

I was scheduled to work Saturday evening, so I drove home to Springfield on Friday and got Rhys we headed back to the Lou Saturday morning. We went to the Zoo with my brother and his two daughters. They had a lot of fun! I then took Rhys to my mom's where he spent part of the afternoon and then headed back over to my brothers where the kids had a night of pizza and movies.

Meanwhile, I was at work. I met the head sou-chef Christoph. He was very nice but seems to enjoy giving me a hard time about my career choices and the fact that I smile all the time. Which he did seem to like much more than the alternative demeanor that some people in the kitchen displayed. Give me time he says...

I started off right away with pressing roasted eggplant through a large wire sieve. I then added tomato paste and cooked it off. I put the mixture in the blast chiller (which apparently most kitchens don't have, more about that later). Once cool I scooped out a tablespoon of the mixture, placed it on a tomato petal and wrapped the whole thing in cellophane to form a tight crescent shape. Repeat 192 times....

I then made several dozen spicy meatballs. I even had to grind the meat. I got lots of help along the way from "Slav" one of the other prep cooks. We all joked together about how "green" I was. I said as green as a green bean fresh from the garden, Christoph said more like a sprout...But I learned a ton.

I received a tour of the facility. It is really cool! All of the meeting space is of the Victorian French era. Reminded me much of Versailles, which I guess was the point. It was beautiful, hand painted wall paper, delicate seating, statues, antique sideboards, and a few columns (which I could have done without).

After about 6 hours I was done and headed to my brothers to collect Rhys and drive back to Springfield. What a day!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Finals Week

Week 6, Days 26-29

We did a lot of testing this week and a ton of cleaning. Each day ended with cleaning the kitchen from top to botton. Not sure what the other two classes who use the same room did, but we cleaned every single thing that wasn't nailed down and all the things that were nailed down as well. As for tests, Monday we took an open book Servesafe exam and Tuesday were reviewed and practiced. Wednesday we took both our Servesafe certification and our FI examination. Both were comprehensive tests from info over the last 6 weeks. I rocked out a 91% on the Servesafe (highest grade in the class) and a 98% on the F1 test. Both a bit of a surprise to me, but, hey, I'll take it! Thursday was our practical day we had 1.5 hours to complete hollindaise, mayo. 2 tourne, 6 battone, 6 julliane, 4 each of large, medium, and small dice, and 1 Tbsp of brunois. I finished with about 22 minutes remaining and received a 100% (-.25 for inconstant battone). Overall I received a 99% and a 97% in the two classes. I have never done that in my life!!!! Now I know how the smart kids felt in high school. We had Friday off for end of term processing etc......

Look Ma! Chairs! Just in time for final exams!!!!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In Over My Head

Week 5, Day 25

Finished up the Servesafe book and we broke up into groups to make Gazpacho. The group exercises are getting better. We have kind of found small groups that we can work with. Mine seems to consist of Jeremy, Jeremy, and Jarred. Funny that they are all Js and two of them are Jeremy. I haven't known a Jeremy since I was in high school. Anyway, we had a few extra peeps in the group and things seemed to go pretty well considering 3/4 of the group had never tasted gazpacho. This little fact makes things a bit more challenging. End result was not bad actually, it was "refreshing" said Chef Sara. We got points for our presentation but ended up second best overall.

Second place Gazpacho

After making this soup in a group, why would I be in over my head you ask? Well, in my search for a part time job in the industry I sent my resume to the St. Louis Club, on a whim. The St. Louis Club is a dining club in Clayton. It is considered a platinum dining club and is ranked among the top 5% of all city clubs nationally by the Club Leader’s Forum. The Executive Chef Pierre Chambrin was the White House Executive Chef During the first Bush administration and left the position shortly after the Clinton's took office, apparently they differed on the menu. Here is a brief description of the history of the White House position.

I emailed my resume on Tuesday and was very surprised to get a response by Tuesday evening. I set up an interview for Thursday afternoon. When I arrived, the kitchen was CRAZY! There were like 20 people jammed into a tiny space all prepping for a banquet and that nights dinner service. I was told to wonder around until the Chef was ready to see me. The kitchen was small in size, but spotless. There was a huge row of copper pots and pans lining the "line" area, where all the action happens. Beautiful desserts were laying on some prep tables, waiting to be stored. French was flying around the kitchen like  gusts of wind from a bluff. I was in awe. I was thinking, "What am I doing here!"

When Chef Pierre was ready for me. I sat in his little tiny office and  he asked me if I wanted an extern-ship, that's where we work for 6 weeks at a restaurant right before we graduate. There were two other Le Cordon Bleu students there this afternoon. I commented I was not ready to do that yet, as I had just started school. He in return asked if I wanted a paying job. I said I wanted to spend some time in his kitchen. He then said, "We have a part time job available, it will be evenings doing banquet prep and will be spotty at best. 30 hours one week, none the next type of thing". I said ok, I mean how could I pass up this opportunity, right? "Can you work Saturday at 3:00?" I said, "SURE!" Full well knowing, I'd have to drive to Springfield on Friday and drive back on Saturday with Rhys. But, hey- I'll figure it out right?

So here I am, I have NO kitchen experience. None, nadda, zip and I just got a paying  job at one of the best kitchens in town? He looked at my resume right? For once maybe my masters degree actually paid off. Maybe they think I'm smart and will pick up on stuff. Let's hope they are right!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Soup...Soup...HACCP Plan

Week 5, Day 23

The five soups we will cover in this class are: In the Clear Soup category: Consomme; Thick Soups: Chowder, Puree, and Bisque; and Specialty/National Soups: Gazpocho.

Today we listened to a Servesafe lecture, walked through a HACCP plan exercise, MORE knife cuts, and the Chefs demoed both consumme and french onion.

A HACCP plan can control risks and hazards throughout the flow of food with in an operation or restaurant. Once the hazards are identified they can be prevented, eliminated, or reduced to safe levels. In order to be effective these plans should be written down and they are specific to each operation. These plans area not required unless there are special circumstances in your operation that would require you to have a plan written our. As an exercise we took the popular item of Chicken Salad and walked each ingredient through the seven HACCP principles.  Thank God they have software for this kind of stuff!! I can't imagine doing this for each menu item. Again, it wouldn't be necessary but the Safety Patrol in me might think otherwise (thanks Jessica).

On to better things....

A Consumme is a bit of an acquired taste, it's uniqueness lies not in it's taste but in the skill level that is required to make it. In order to get the soup so perfectly clear a raft is created using the mirepoix, ground beef and egg. This all binds together and draws out the impurities in the stock. It takes some amount of skill to  create the raft, strain and degrease properly. Chef Bruce did an outstanding job, see below....

French Onion- What can I say, not a big fan. This one was ok, but the onions defiantly needed more time to cook.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Week 5, Day 22

Soup is the word of the day. I love soup!!!! We had a short lecture on the three basic categories of soup;
Clear, Thick, and Speciality/National. I figured there would have been way more categories because there are so many types of soup. Just google "types of soup" and see what you get....We will basically just cover five types in this class, again, the Chef Instructors will demo and we'll make them on our own next phase, just in time for fall. Rock On!

For the history buffs out there. According to the Nibble, an online food magazine, our word soup comes from French soupe, which derived from Latin suppa, from the post-classical Latin verb suppare, to soak, which indicated bread soaked in broth, or a liquid poured onto a piece of bread. In Germanic languages, the word sop, referred to a piece of bread used to soak up soup or a thick stew. The word entered the English language in the seventeenth century exactly as that: soup pored over “sops” of bread or toast (which evolved into croutons). Prior to then, soups were called broth or pottage and these terms are still used classical cooking today.

Shrimp Bisque was the soup of the day. A bisque is generally made from seafood, but not always (think tomato bisque), thickened with cream and it's named after it's primary ingredient.

Lab: More cutting. I am so board of cutting......

Shrimp Bisque; From this.... this! Yumo!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Week 5, Day 21

Back to the night class on Mondays. I've come to hate Mondays, because It's so hard to leave Rhys. But the weeks tend to go by very quickly with the turn around Monday night to Tuesday morning.

Well today was a bit of a bust. Chef Eddie was out of town visiting the Chicago LCB campus last week. He had a few lectures to catch up on. Both of which I had already had last week..... I guess it doesn't hurt to hear the same info more than once, plus he always adds very colorful stories to his lectures and a different spin on the context.

We did discuss the denaturing of proteins which was new. Denaturing is to change the molecular shape of a protein. This can be done in one of seven ways:

1. Acid (use of lemon or vinegar)
2. Heat
3. Salt (tenderizer)
4. Time (example: dry aged beef)
5.Physical Agitation (use of a mallet)
6. Alcohol (an acid but has different properties than lemon or vinegar)
7. UV Radiation (microwave- not approved of in a professional kitchen)

I also learned about a new chochlatier: Norman Love Confections. Chef Eddie is a personal friend of Norman and a huge fan of the product, I can't wait to try them out!!!!

No Lab today. Missed the demo of saute and poach because of the timing of the classes....

Fried Chicken Friday!!

Week 4, Day 20

Second Practical today. We performed two knife cuts (tourne and large dice) and  made hollendaise and mayo. Everything went very smoothly for me. I made sure I had my mise en place set up before I started and just took my time and began with one item and moved to the next. I scored a 99%, 99.75 out of 100 points. Got marked off for my hollendaise being too thick. I knew when I submitted it, it was too thick, but it was cooling very quickly and I didn't want to take the chance on it getting even thicker as it cooled. I had already  had to thin it out and then re-season a couple of times. I just had to say it was finished and be done with it.

To finish up the day Chef Bruce made Fried Chicken, if you'll remember from yesterday, it's one of the 7 classic cooking techniques. The demo was full of both students and chefs sharing their grandma's recipes. It was quite informative and fun!!! My grandma would have been proud, I think hers was better than what we had today.

Dipping the Chicken

And let it FRY!!!

Le Cuissons

Sorry, I'm a few days behind in my posts. It's amazing how fast posts, homework, work, and life can pile up on you. Here goes a few abbreviated posts....

Week 4, Day 19

Today we talked about the 7 classic cooking techniques or le cuissons. Let me tell you at this point I am wishing I paid more attention in French class....

Each specific technique will effect the flavor, consistency, digestibility and preparation of a dish. In some cases several techniques can be used in one dish.

Le Rotir- Roasting. Typically a larger cut of meat that is cooked in a dry atmosphere (maybe on a spit) in order to form an outer crust.
Le Poeler- A tough cut of meat that is cooked in a humid atmosphere (covered dish) to obtain a more tender end product. Can have aromatics added to help with the exchange of flavors.
Le Sauter-Saute or pan fry. Small tender cuts that are cooked in a small amount of fat. Meat maintains natural juices and forms a crust thought the Maillard Reaction.
Le Griller- Grilling. Small tender cuts that have direct contact with a grill. Cooked in a dry environment and also forms a crust to capture juices.
Le Frier- Frying. Small cuts placed in a large amount of hot fat. This is also a dry environment and the end product should not be oily.
Le Pocher-Poaching or boiling or simmering. Typically less tender cuts cooked in a large amount of liquid. Can be either a deep poach or a shallow poach. The liquid helps to tenderize the meat.
Le Braiser- Braising or stewing. Tender or tough cuts are cooked in a small amount of liquid at a low heat.

Our chef demo was a chicken fricassee. An example of braised chicken. We will be making this dish on our own next phase.

Chicken Fricassee finishing up the cooking process

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

F1 Mid Term

Week 4, Day 18

Test day. We had two tests again today. This time I wasn't nervious because I knew what to expect. We had some issues with the computer set up again so a group of us headed to the computer lab to take the tests. We got a late start, but at least we had chairs to sit in.

I received a 93% and a 97% this time around. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks? Woof! We will have a practical on Friday over mayo and holindaise, large dice, and tournes. Tournes are the baine of my existance. Yuck!

After the tests, we had practice time and Chef Sara demoed Roast Chicken. Man did that chicken smell good!! It also could have been all the other wonderful smells coming from the other kitchens down the hall. I've posted a picture of what F3 was doing today, lamb. That was the same dish they were doing the day I visited the school. That was only 12 weeks ago!? Just think in 12 short weeks, we'll be doing the same thing. Cool.

F3 Lamb Shank

Edward Chickenhands

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


Week 4, Day 17

Off for Labor Day (Day 16)

Had a nice long weekend at home with Rhys. He changes so much during the week while I'm gone!!! It's crazy! We've been doing Skype video calls during the week to keep my face fresh in his memory. Toddlers can be difficult to communicate with as they are very visual and don't like to talk on the phone much. Anyway....

More of the same today. But there was an interesting turn of events. One of my classmates, Jared, whom I chat with a lot, is pretty good in the kitchen. He has some good work experience, some previous classes under his belt, and is pretty smart to boot. So thus far, he's had no issues in class. I kind of like to watch what he is doing to make sure I'm on track with things.... Competitave? Me? No!?

Today we were chatting away and decided to help each other out while getting supplies and ingrediants ready for our lab. Thus, we headed down the proverbial hollendaise trail at the same time. He did the vinigar infusion, I got the eggs and spices. He boiled the water, I squeezed the lemons. You get the idea. With our eggs in the double boiler and butter in hand, we began to whisk. We both were concerned with the temperature of the butter. It seemed too hot. Chef Sara confirmed the butter was a bit warm and warned us to whisk fast or we'd be in trouble.

Whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, slowly add the butter.
Whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, slowly add the butter.
Whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, slowly add the butter.

Add the butter bit faster now.....

Whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, add the butter.
Whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, add the butter.
Whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk, add the butter.

If nothing else, I learn from my mistakes (remember my episode last week?). When all the butter was gone, the result was great! My hollandiase turned out again, finally! But, poor Jared's didn't turn out. Poor, poor,Jared. What a funny turn of events. Even funner how after this happens to you, you try to explain how you've been successful before and this was the first time it's happened. I knew EXACTLY how he felt, defeated, deflated, and embarrased. Weird that you should feel that way, it's just a sauce.

Well, there is alway tomorrow and he can try again then.

Failed Hollendaise

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Epic Fail

Week 3, Day 15

To take a term from the younger video game addicted generation. Today was an Epic Fail. I attempted to make my beginner sauce and dressing again today. Through my failure I learned how to fix mistakes that happen along the way. Which I the real point of learning, right?

My first attempt of the day was mayo. It turned out too gloppy. Is that even a word? Anyway, so I needed to add either an acid (lemon) or water to thin it out. Then it became a bit too runny, so I turned to oil to aid in finding the right consistency. Voile! The mixture "broke". An egg can only hold so much liquid after all. Dang!

Let's move on, shall we?

Hollendaise. Today I got out all of my ingredients before I started. I whisked my eggs and vinegar until it formed a ribboney texture, I began to add the butter....and it failed.....ARGH! It was through working with a more experienced classmate I came to find out; if your butter is too hot, or you add it too quickly your sauce will not emulsify. If your water is not hot enough, you take too long adding your fat, or you don't reach the ribbon stage before adding the fat, your sauce will not emulsify. For something so simple there are sure a lot of elements to go wrong.

I tried again, this time with some coaching. End product, hollendaise! Ye-ah! Ye-ah!

I plan to take my newly learned culinary facts and go forth spreading my wisdom of emulsification! Epic Success!?

BTW- as a class today we also made a pretty darn good tomato sauce. See pics below.

Tomato Sauce Stewing
Careful Jeremy, Don't get any on you!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Mise en Place

Week 3, Day 14

I received a very good lesson in Mise en Place today. Mise en Place (meez on plahss) is French meaning "everything in place." This is a highly regarded term in the professional kitchen. Although many people don't know the terminology for it, a lot of us practice it. For example, on all the Food Network shows we all love and even on old episodes of "Cooking with Julia Child" all the ingredients for the dish the host is cooking are in little ramekins on the counter. I always thought this was for the viewers benefit. Partially, yes, but partially it is the cooks mise en place. Getting everything you need ready before you need it. Setting up your work area with all the tools you need. Thinking ahead and being prepared, this is practicing good mise en place.

In class we were basically given the entire time to practice our mayo, hollandaise, and knife cuts. I choose to practice my cuts first as there was a rush for the stove. I need to get those darn tournes down! Besides, with rock star performance on sauces yesterday, no rush to repeat.....

So, I waited. When I began the sauces, I started with mayo. It turned out well. On to hollandaise. I began whisking, added in a bit of acid (vinegar infused with black peppercorn), and then the clarified butter, and CRAP!!! A runny mess! Looked like a huge egg yolk. I was miffed, needless say, and didn't think to take a picture. I had 20 minutes left in class, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

Here is where the lesson began. I was out of all my ingredients, wanting to be conscious of waste I began gathering up unused portions from other class mates. Ok, fine.... the clarified butter was all gone so I had to put more on the stove. Get eggs. Get peppercorns and vinegar and Put on stove. Cook until au sec (almost dry). Crap, separate eggs. Double crap, someone stole my butter. Put more butter on. Crap! Put water on for double boiler. Crap, crap, crap someone stole my peppercorns and vinegar and left me with burning peppercorns!!!!! OK- start over with peppercorns and vinegar.......

Can anyone guess how my hollandaise turned out? Yup, like crap. Lesson over.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Whisking With Purpose

Week 3, Day 13

Today we began cooking! We actually got near a stove! Yee Haw! We started out with two very basic sauces, Hollandaise and mayonnaise (a sauce to some, a condiment or dressing to others). The point of these two sauces is the emulsification of the egg. Emulsification is the mixing of two homogenous liquids; egg and fat. In this case, oil for the mayo and butter for the hollandaise. If you don't whisk the mixture enough the egg and fat will not emulsify and you'll have a runny mess. If you whisk it too much the mixture will "break" and the egg and fat will separate, never to be joined again. In order to reach this critical point of emulsification you must whisk with purpose. Not too hard, not too slow, not too fast... it has to be just right for it to work. The best way, I learned, is by using the wrist, not the arm, and making "S" shaped stroked as opposed to the circular motion I was taught when I was little by my father. I will see if this technique stands true when we get to baking and pasterie. At the end of the day both of my sauces turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. However, it's kind of gross to taste that much mayo at 8:00 in the morning.


Whisking Furriously

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

For One Night Only

I arrived in class early enough this morning to peruse through the new edition of Sauce Magazine. A local foodie magazine here in St. Louis. I noticed a large ad announcing the Anthony Bourdain was coming to St. Louis on October 1st. I was intrigued. I've followed Mr. Bourdain for several years on the Travel Channel, in fact he inspired my ex husband and I to get off the beaten path when we travel and really discover life and food in the places we visited. Now, he's completely eccentric, I mean who else wears a Ramon's t-shirt while in a rice field in Vietnam and combat, or were they cowboy, boots to Norway? Apparently, during the release tour of his new book "Medium Raw" he has been quoted as saying that he's grown up now and has even taken his earring out.

"Medium Raw" was released about the same time I made the decision to go to culinary school. So of course, everyone had to point out his chapter entitled "So, you want to be a chef?" As you may guess he was not super supportive about attending school, but he did not knock it either. He himself is a CIA (Culinary Institute of America) graduate. He stated the same thing I've heard time and time again, you've got to pay your dues if you want to be the best. Cooking on the line is a hard life and is physically demanding. He suggested if you are over 30 you are probably too old to hack it etc.... Ok, I get where he is coming from. Mr. Bourdain has a certain way of putting things that is blunt and to the point and not very PC. But, you know what, not everyone's end goal is to cook at the best restaurant in New York City. The culinary arts is just that, an art. It's different for everyone, and what they want to get out of their career is also different. It is what it is. I'm not sure why I'm so hung up on this issue. I guess I'm seeking validation from "the industry" that I've made a good choice. I don't think I'm gonna get it.....

I haven't decided if I want to see him speak or not. I know he'd have interesting stories to share, it defiantly won't be a motivational talk, but I'd bet it'd be entertaining.