Monday, November 30, 2009

Mise en place

Hello again from the world of the wanna be chef.

Yeah, it took a week but I have a firm grip on where I stand in the culinary pecking order. And that would be at the very bottom. After two weeks in my Cooking 1 class my head is dizzy with what I need to remember and learn. For instance, today we went to a class instructed by Chef John Kinsella, pretty much the patriarch of our culinary school, to check out some of the ovens and other cooking equipment covered in the chapter we were studying. It was an advanced cooking class and you could tell because they were cranking out food I could only dream of making one day. At first it scared me because the whole confidence complex I have with myself. But then I realized these guys and gals all started just like I did. This is a process built on a very solid foundation. This school is not the place if you want to be the next food network guru with your own catch phrases. They don't teach catch phrases here, nor will they teach you how to wear the Mr. T starter kit or how to wear your sunglasses backwards. No this place is for folks who understand that you have to respect the classic way of doing things because that is the backbone to all things culinary.

So until next time remember……”eat or be eaten”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cooking 1...Day 1 My Thoughts

So the alarm went off this morning 5:30am and I willingly got up before the first snooze. Which is always the best and worst part of my morning? Oh, snooze thank you for my additional 5 minutes. Damn you snooze for ringing again and again. So why so cheery at such an early hour? Well today was the first real "cooking" class I have at the Midwest Culinary Institute. My first chance to prove I am the next Top Chef. I know I am laughing too...its ok ..its a joke. I am fully aware I am no where near were I need be and even if I thought I was I would still need years of experience. Besides this face is not made for TV.

So I arrived to the class 45 minutes early and to my surprise I was the third one there already. Looks like I wasn't the only one excited and extremely nervous. Speaking of nervous, I do something very annoying when I am nervous, talk a lot. For those who have known me for a long time you already know this about me. Although, Chef Ropp, the instructor didn't, and my first couple questions before class made me look like an idiot. Not sure what I was thinking but for a while I had a nice healthy case of vomiting of the mouth. Once I realized it I stopped immediately and sat as quiet as I could. Once everyone arrived, I noticed, for once, that I was not the oldest student in class...thank goodness.

By this time class has began and yes I am trying not to let my nerves show to everyone. The Chef Ropp began to go over some basic rules for the class. I could tell by the way he conducted the class that he was someone who was not going to tolerate an ounce of BS from anyone. In addition to that he seemed very organized again thank goodness. Believe it or not its hard sometimes to have an instructor who is organized. They drive me crazy.

I do not want to bore you with all the details of this six-hour class, which has no significance to you. For me, it was just another step on a journey to where...... I am not sure yet.. All I know is that it was a huge step to walk into that class and say to myself ......Yes, I commit to this and I have to succeed and ride this wave and not be afraid to get knockdown once and a while.

Good news though I did leave with all my digits intact!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Food For Thought

Okay, I know it has been a while but I must say school is kicking my butt. Although I did finish the late fall term with a 3.5 gpa so as for now I am meeting the challenge head on with success. For those who do not know I am currently attending The Midwest Culinary Institute at Cincinnati State. It is an incredible program and I cannot wait to get my hands dirty and dive in headfirst. However, I love food, and the food loves my gut, so it is a love hate relationship.

This term has taught me more about myself than I could have imagined. Throughout my life, I have struggled with confidence. Sure, I might put on a good face but always inside I have been riddled with doubt and low self-esteem. It seemed every time I started something worthwhile I would just quit or figure out a way to talk myself out of going forward. Trust me, I am not proud of it, but it has been the hurdle that has tripped me up and left me with some nasty scares. This last term of school was a battle for me on all kinds of levels and started to hear the whispers of self doubt and it was hard at times to not just fall back on that and pack it in half way through. However, I know this is it and I will not be given a second chance and I should take full advantage of the situation I am currently presented with at this point of my life.

For me this last year has taught me more than I could imagine and I have many people to thank. First, I would say my wife, Nicole, who was instrumental in getting me back to school, and without her support, I would be lost. Next would be all my friends, even the ones who don't really talk to me anymore, with you guys and gals I wouldn't have the support I needed to keep going.

Next term I will be taking Cooking 1 and it will be the first time I will be getting my hands dirty and cooking. I plan to use this blog to chronicle that voyage. Along the way, I plan to throw in some restruant reviews as a part of my continuing partnership with Cincinnati Taste Casting.

Eat well and let the food do the talking