I am going to culinary school.
Not in some far off, hypothetical, "Man, it would so cool to go to culinary school" way, but rather in a "Starting in eight weeks, I am looking at a massive tuition bill and 4 semesters of school in Napa" way.
My ship finally has a keel under it. For a month or so, I felt like a 17 year old in high school who constantly checks the mailbox for the early decision college letter.
Honestly, I'm a little nervous for the following reasons:
What if everyone in St. Helena is snotty and elitist? I guess I survived fraternity parties at UVA, it couldn't be that much worse. AND who am I kidding? I grew up in Palo Alto.
What if all the other students at culinary school have wicked good knife skills? I need to get on the chopping onions practice program ASAP.
What if the instructors are really mean and try to make me cry? I'll share advice from some fellow line cooks: "Smoke weed, then you won't care if they yell at you." I thought about it for a second, but then I concluded that I would burn my hands and slice off my fingertips if I tried to cook high.
Their advice, however, is pretty telling of the culinary profession. Perhaps it isn't true of everyone, but it does seems that lots of chefs operate on stimulants or depressants to deal with the pace and the stress of the job. Is that what I want to become?
No, I don't want to become an embittered, chain-smoking, hard-drinking, principally nocturnal control freak. That model is the kind of chef I would like to avoid. (Enter Gordon Ramsay's photo here.) I'm not going to be Giada DiLaurentis either, I mean, c'mon! Who cooks with that much cleavage out anyway? Put the girls away for a half hour, I can't focus on the risotto.
But I digress. The kind of chef I do want to become is a skillful one. I want to pick up some sweet skills. How I then apply those skills- whether as a chef de cuisine or a test kitchen chef or a food writer or recipe developer or food stylist- is still uncertain. I suppose it also depends on what kind of job I can get. Maybe a cooking instructor would be the perfect job, I could combine my love of food with my interest in coaching and teaching.
I can't know right now how it will all play out. The point is, as my girl Jillian would say: it's happening!