I am currently a student in Foundations 2, which means I’ve passed the obnoxiously boring prep classes, like Safety and Sanitation and basic knife skills. Yesterday we were finally allowed to use the ranges, igniting the gas beneath our saucepans and watching the blue flames fly. After all, that’s why we all joined culinary school in the first place, right?
Since this marks a momentous occasion, I’ve decided to list the five most valuable life and classroom lessons I’ve picked up so far.
1. Make friends with all the big, scary tough guys.
I’m a 5’2″ 100lb girl. I can’t lift a raging hot 20 pound stockpot. You know who can? That’s right, Biker Bill, who looks intimidating with his beard and tattoos and gauges but is really about the nicest person I’ve ever met. I also can’t reach the top shelf of the dry goods storage. Know who can? George, the former tattoo artist with the braid down his back. And he’s happy to help! These fantastic people can also help me fix my car and protect me from creepers as I walk out into the parking lot. They’re some of the best people I’ve ever met. Plus, they can cook up a storm and aren’t afraid to yell out swear words I’ve never even heard before.
2. Treat others well and they’ll do the same.
I’m so thrilled about being down here, living the dream, that I’ve begun to smile like a madwoman at everyone that walks by. Even at Target, which maybe isn’t the greatest idea of all, because all the shoppers think I’m nuts. But that’s okay. I’ve discovered that when I’m nice to people, they’re nice to me, too. Even nice enough to pick me up at the airport at 1 in the morning due to a delayed flight.
3. A beurre blanc is not (ever!) made with heavy cream.
And there will be people who say otherwise. Don’t let them fool you.
4. There are twenty million thousand herbs in the world and each one of them is important.
It is very helpful to be able to identify them all. Just in case you ever find yourself in a situation where it’s life or death and you must be able to differentiate between rosemary and tarragon before thyme runs out. (See what I did there? Thyme? Time? Ahaha…)
5. It is okay to have an obsession with knives in this profession.
Just like it’s okay for a fully grown man to tear up at the perfect hollandaise, it’s perfectly normal to be very enthusiastic when my new tournee knife shows up at the door. Culinarians have that right. It is also alright to be moved by how sharp said knife is as it carves through and de-fleshes an orange. There’s nothing wrong with that.