Got a break we can catch?

Finally the update I wanted to give!

Culinary School.

For the last 2 Months I have been working with the French Culinary Institute to find a way for me to attend.  I have always been drawn to culinary school and now that I have been in touch with the food industry in so many capacities I know that’s where I am headed.  As soon as I made the decision to attend school I began to attempt to secure the financing to enroll.  Turns out this is not exactly an easy thing!  Now, I have very good credit, but if you have lived in a new state for only 3 months, and have only been employed at your job for 1 month… good luck getting a loan, even a student loan.  The lovely people at FCI have been trying every single avenue to give me the opportunity to attend, and finally we thought we had the answer: one small loan, and a 20k scholarship!  SO once we had assumed that I had secured financing I enrolled and began classes!

What an amazing thing it has been so far!  I bundle up in my entire ensemble of chef’s attire and march down to Soho every other night.  It is amazing the layers of clothing I wear in those 85-90 degree kitchens…. chef’s coat (embroidered with my name), t-shirt, check pants, apron, hat, neckerchief, clogs… Quite the outfit.  I also lug around with me my whole suitcase of knives and tools!  Honestly there is something hilarious to me about carrying around a suitcase of knives right through the bustling crowds on Broadway.

Day One: We did not mess around when starting class.  Our Chef Instructor: Chef X (Xavier) is a feisty and driven Frenchman, and is a firm believer in results and not wasting time.  We picked up our knives almost instantly and began to learn every single french vegetable cut that we would ever need, all the while Chef X is walking around criticizing our lack of skill, 20 mins into our first ever class.  It was an eye opening first day, and honestly quite reassuring, because it became apparent that we were there to learn and not be coddled.  It is extremely nice to know that you were going to get your moneys worth of education, there simply is no fluff involved.

Day 2,3,4,5: Everything is going so fast!  After stumbling through day one and barely escaping with all of my fingers I buckled down and made sure I was prepared for all of the upcoming classes.  We have amazing text books which I have been pouring over in order to make sure I am ready for classes.  As it turns out I am one of the least experienced chefs in the class, but with every single dish we cook I am able to prove myself to our chef and classmates.  I may not be extremely versed in technique but when I cook, I can cook!  It feels so good to be challenged, and every single minute of class is exhilarating and a learning experience.  I am absolutely in love with creating something with my hands, and being allowed to show a little creativity.  Chef X’s militant instruction has eased slightly towards the students who have shown to be committed and competent, and already I feel the class has formed into the classic kitchen brigade helping each other out in order to put out great food and gain good results.  Learning learning learning… I feel like my brain is going to be saturated in no time.

It has been pretty challenging working 50 hours a week, and then Monday, Weds, Friday nights spending 5 more hours on my feet in the kitchen, but man it has been exciting.  It is that kind of satisfying exhaustion that I have mentioned on here before.  Feeling tired for a good reason feels so validating.  It feels so great knowing that the effort you put in is returned to you.  Although sometimes I feel like Shannon is going to forget what I look like.

I am now convinced that this is a very worthwhile endeavor, worth the price, the time, and effort.  I will absolutely be able to call on these skills to succeed in the culinary industry.  On that note, it is going to have to wait.  As it turns out the scholarship didn’t work out.  Instead the financial offices attempted to rig together a systems of loans to make the money available for me to attend, but in the process created such high monthly payments that I will be unable to afford going.  So.  I have had to withdraw (hopefully temporarily) from school.

The plan is to work, work, work… save save save.  Hopefully over the next year I can put away enough money to make the payments I need to attend school.  It is hard to get a little taste like this, like a teaser trailer, but I think it will keep me fueled and pumped up to achieve that ultimate goal.

I don’t know what this may entail or where to start, but I am determined to continue my culinary education outside of the classroom.  I hope to find a chef or organization to mentor me so that I can gain more and more experience.  It may come down to me simply going through the text books they gave me page by page until I learn every single term and technique in it.

Anyways, Shannon is going to start at FCI soon!!!!  We ultimately are both going to be the ultimate knife wielding duo!  Shannon starts there in a few weeks, and I after getting to know the school I am so excited for her to dive in!  She is going to rule the pastry scene!  I am going to have breads, cakes, chocolates, candies, and everything wonderful that ever grace an oven come pouring into my home… world get ready for Tristan the 6’6″ 650 lbs behemoth.  I will let you know how her adventure goes when it kicks off, and how my belt line is fairing.  I am a little sad not to be there with her, but with some time and maybe an extra job, we’ll get there.

So that’s what has been on our plate out here for the last 2 months.  It has been quite the roller coaster.  Hopefully we can sort everything out over the next year…

My sister is here owning New York.  She has apparently decided to rule the city and secured a job at Pure Food and Wine, a really cool raw food restaurant that attracts all of the biggest names in the city.  She has seriously just showed up here, landed and her feet, and just hit the ground running.  It has been a blast having her here.

Upwards and onwards from here.

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Everybody wants to rule the world…

It has been a somewhat trying time for Shannon and I out here these last few weeks as recent events have really made us question what we need to do immediately to obtain our ultimate goals.  In order to make sure we are on the right track towards what it is we want, we first have to figure out what that is.  This particular question has kept us up at night, made us go on those walks you have to take when we just need to clear our heads, and ultimately ended up with us writing down our goals on a napkin in a bar.  As usual it would seem that a bottle of wine can “make you see things clearer,” or at least it always appears that way in the moment.  Of course later we found that napkin wadded up in the bottom of a pocket, splattered with wine and what I can only assume was some sort of risotto.  After slowly deciphering the scratch work I have decided that even if it is a fantasy it was well laid out.  It looked something like this:

5 Steps to Awesomeness (A Life Plan)

1:  Achieve professional culinary training at the prestigious French Culinary Institute.

2:  Gain much prestige in the kitchen’s of New York as cook/pastry duo.  Work with only the finest names in the business.

3:  Move to London/Paris/Prague/All of the Above  -> See world -> Continue to create cuisine and pastries at a higher level with Europe’s most esteemed culinary minds.

4:  Take a breather.  Work in a small bakery and laid back pub on the south coast of England, basking in summer time sun, and staying cozy in the cottage during winters.  Possibly never leave this step.

5:  Open up our obviously successful restaurant/bar/pastry heaven.  Rule the World.

Not a bad sounding list!?  Practical?  Maybe not.  Exciting?  Definitely.  We have pinned this napkin to our fridge as inspiration.  Are we headed that direction?  Maybe, but we have a lot of other things to sort out in any immediate future.  Things have been flowing in and out of our vision, and this is one of many options we have prodded.  I thought I was put this up there for everyone to see because it holds it to a higher scrutiny, and lets me own up to a thought before actually considering it.

Beyond this.  I was on one of the aforementioned walks this afternoon, in search of many things, but among them being a coke in a glass bottle.  So I walked from local convenient store to local convenient store, which sound like it could be a lot but really they mostly share wall after wall.  Something that strikes me every time I head out of the house an errand where I am not rushing from one place to another and I have a chance to lift my head up to look around, are the community gardens.  They are small thickets of green stuck in between large lumbering buildings.  It is funny to come across them when you walk by building after building… it is an instant breath of fresh air.  I want to lend some time to maintaining them as soon as I nail down my schedule.  Here is an awkward view of one: