If you ever had a romanticized view of culinary school that involved simply showing up, putting on a cute outfit and baking cakes all day, then whooooooaa nelly, don’t sign up! It’s intense. Seriously, intense. I probably have more reading to do now than in university (or perhaps it’s because this is actually interesting so I’m actually reading it, rather than waiting till mid-term time and pulling all-nighters to catch up!). I’m in class for 20hours a week, and have probably 18-20 hours of homework a week. But it’s fun for the most part. More on homework in next post…
The other thing I didn’t really realize is how formal, how traditional, and how militaristic it all is. The Food Network is NOT real, and Rachel Ray is absolutley NOT a chef. We’re talking “Yes, Chef! No, Chef” lingo, addressing them by their titles at all times (as in casual convo., “Good morning Chef Carole”) and them being allowed to kick us out of class for something as minor as bangs poking out of our hats (ALL hair has to be under those stylish chapeaus) or wearing socks with stripes. Heck, they can even kick you out if your jacket is wrinkled (but luckily there is an iron in the student lounge for just this reason). It seems a bit comical, but now that we’re engrained in it, it just makes sense. We’re training in a field that traditions have been thriving in since the 18th century. Everything is French, and we all know, the French are not ones to mess with. It’s a field where rank is taken extremely seriously, and to be a Chef is a title earned over years and years, not handed out with a diploma after one year. We expect low wages and low seniority for the first while, because that is simply How. It’s. Done. But not to worry – if you’re good, and passionate, you can go far. And with that comes more seniority, more responsibility, and better hours. I’m sure some people do sign up with that romanticized view of the program – but people also fail, so perhaps those two things are linked.
How am I liking it?
You know what, I LOVE it. I thought I’d enjoy it, definitely, especially the baking/pastry courses (which is of course the program I’m registered in). I don’t get the baking/pastry classes till next quarter, so this one is a bit intense because it is full on culinary, and tons of theory and book work. But I really love it. I love coming home from class at noon, having lunch, and spending the afternoon reading. Maybe this is what was missing in university….being really interested and passionate about what we’re learning. I can even tie my neckerchief now without looking in the mirror, and I don’t mind working my way through a pile of potatoes at night, practicing my knife skills while watching Friends repeats. So far, so good!