Everything I’ve ever read on chefs and culinary school involves a certain amount of verbal abuse. It seems to just be part of the experience, part of the road to chefdom.

It’s far more terrifying to experience it in real life. Waiting on pins and needles for the chef to turn on you with a sharp remark is no fun, but it keeps every student on their toes.

Luckily, I haven’t done anything worthy of scolding yet, other than struggling to tie my cravat properly. I’m sure that will change when I take my position as sous chef on Friday, my turn to act as second in command of the classroom.

There has been one student in particular who the chef has been fond of teasing. He’s a very short student. Chef Klaus issued him a warning about hemming his chef pants–“You need to shop in the children’s department!”– followed by a sharp chuckle

photo from

These kinds of comments are typical in the classroom. Chef Klaus is a Certified Master Chef, one of only sixty seven in the world. He’s in the running for a Lifetime Achievement Award and is widely recognized as ‘a culinary god,’ according to the chef next door. Every class break we have results in someone commenting, “Oh, you’re in Chef Klaus’s class?” followed by a reason we should bow and kiss his holy nonslip black work shoes.

I don’t even know how to begin to describe Chef Klaus. He’s friendly to a point and, for the most part, very good humored. His English is accented by a distinct German lilt. He takes food very seriously but is not a serious person, entertaining the class with his antics and swearing at us in that German accent of his. He’s also proud of his many achievements, and rightly so. He’s earned them.

Really, though, when it comes to describing Chef Klaus, the only thing I can say is this: he really knows his stuff. His physical appearance, his mannerisms, none of it matters. All it takes is one look at him and you can feel the prestige, the knowledge he possesses . He looks happy–a rosy cheeked and cheerful looking man with the stature of Santa Claus and a chuckle like the Keebler Elf, but something about him scares the daylights out of me.

It’s probably the fact he has more skill in his little finger than I can hope to learn in a lifetime.

But they say to be the best you have to learn from the best, and I’m certainly learning from someone who qualifies! It’s just going to keep me on my toes, that’s all. Perhaps I should start wearing my pointe shoes in the kitchen…


2 thoughts on “Chefdom

  1. Your head chefs sounds good, ignore the rubbish and just focus on what he’s saying and you will learn a hell of a lot! I just finished my two years of culinary school and it was completely worth it! You don’t realize how much you will really learn!

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