I can’t believe that I have already been at the CIA for a week. Although the week at times felt like one safety lecture after another by Thursday, I was already standing in my fundamentals class or fundies as it is adoringly referred to around here. I’ve quickly learned some of the do’s and dont’s around here and one of the ways to look like a newbie is to call a class or building by it’s full name! I’ve also learned that if I want to eat from one of the school’s kitchens I better remember to take out my earrings – rookie mistake on my part!
Everyday I wake up more excited than the last to be here. I only hope that continues to be my feeling. It is a rewarding experience to be in a place where you are constantly learning about your passion. Walking through campus Monday through Friday is a constant sea of white. Everyone looks virtually the same, which at first was a little intimidating to say the least. I wasn’t even sure how to properly wear my uniform on the first day, but luckily there are about 2,000 people walking around here that do. I now know the proper way to wear my neckerchief and toque. Two things completely foreign to me until last Thursday. I learned that we wear a neckerchief to absorb the sweat on our necks from the hot kitchens and that the toque symbolizes a longstanding tradition of being a chef. Marie-Antoine Careme and Auguste Escoffier began the French tradition of wearing a toque. Today wearing a toque not only serves as a status symbol, but it also provides sanitary purposes while cooking.
I haven’t had a formal class yet, however, I have already learned so much just from the CIA’s unique dining experience. With one swipe of my meal card I can have classic French food, Asian cuisine, Mediterranean cuisine, comforting American classics, or experimental dishes from the “Fun with Food’s Kitchen.” If you’re feeling adventurous you can try the Cajun Creole class’s alligator soup. If that’s not your style then you can wait in line for a Philly Cheesesteak – just be prepared what to say when Chef asks, “wit or witout?” If you are looking to experience fine dining on a weeknight you can change out of your whites and into some business casual and head down to Modern Banquet. Students in a table side service class will attentively wait on you and bring you out delicious food from the rotating menu. These waiter/waitress trainees were so attentive I think I had the recommended eight glasses of water all in one sitting! That night for dinner I had a delicious soy glazed salmon and orange peanut salad. The choices are pretty much endless if you can manage to not get lost while finding all of the production kitchens. It is amazing how everything is pretty much in one building but I still seem to get totally lost on a daily basis!
Everyone around here gets pretty excited around mealtimes, not only because of the food, but because of the company. It’s pretty easy to strike up conversation with someone in the dining room because everyone is here for the exact same reason – they love food. The conversations always start pretty much the same, talking about what we got for dinner or how we got lost finding a kitchen. However, after about 10 minutes we are passing around our plates to try a warm watermelon salad or an Asian spiced tofu that tastes like lavender. Then everyone agrees that we would be wasting an opportunity to taste some of the beautifully plated desserts – so of course we pick out a few to share. It’s a good thing they have free yoga classes throughout the week!!! Every night I grab my phone to take a picture and realize that I’ve spent two hours having dinner with people who were previously complete strangers to me. Since I’ve been here I’ve had the chance to meet a new group of people and try at least one new type of food every day. I can’t wait for what’s to come!
I realize that lately I have been unable to post frequently, however, I plan on making a greater effort to post a couple times a week. I can’t wait to share some of my CIA experiences with all of you! Thanks for reading!