What Is Happening!?

Not much.  Life in the East Village continues to trek forward with a very steady march.  We have ousted all of the visitors and returned to a normal routine of work and relaxation.  Shannon is starting to find a good rhythm with her very full schedule, and we are still indulging in new pastry delights every other night.

I have initiated the get back into shape sequence by attempting to run everyday.  Even now after just 4 days I can feel the spring entering back into my step.  Being in shape and remaining active creates so much energy in your day to day living.  Running in the city is not ideal, and is by no means anything like running in Albuquerque.  I do miss the mountains and the forests; I don’t miss the altitude.  Urban training is an interesting task, between dodging people, cars, and bikes as well as attempting to time out street lights… it makes for an inconsistent outing.  What I lose in steadiness when running I do gain in interesting sites, sounds, and events.  People watching is premium.  Things you find lying around are intriguing.  Places you stumble across are endless.  There is something about running up the river at night, feeling the cool air breeze off the water, the briney smell is refreshing versus stifling, and then you come around a turn and see the Manhattan skyline pour out in front of you, it can be quite humbling.  Even if the I’m not running on beautiful trails, running is showing me the city like no other method can.  Who knows, maybe I will end up in a race now and again.

At home we are hosting a different kind of house guest now a days.  In order to pad our rent costs enough so that we can all live here happily, and to bring in a little extra income on top of it, we have put our living room on airBnB.com.  It is a cool site akin to couch surfing, but not free, that allows people to stay in houses and apartments across the world for much less than hotel prices.  Shannon and I first came to New York by using AirBnB, and had such great success with it that we have thought to give a try ourselves.  Simply put we have a house guests for weekends.  People book our lovely living room in which we have a pull out couch and air mattress and stay with us for a couple of nights here and there for $75 a night.  So far so good!  We have had a couple come to stay with us who are extremely nice.  Coming up we have a couple from Sweden coming to stay with us for a few nights.  It is actually really interesting to meet all of these people, and luckily we get to screen everyone ahead of time.  Here is the link to our specific post on the site:

http://www.airbnb.com/rooms/45873

Here are some pictures of Shannon newest creations:

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Chef Shannon, or Tristan Gets Fat.

I know I haven’t posting anything in quite some time, and quite certainly there is a lot of stuff that has happened over the last 3 weeks!  Visitors, job stuff, weather, NY chaos… etc.  These will all be addressed over the next few days, but for this post I would really love to highlight one thing: Talent.

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights have become quite crowded around our apartment.  Shannon has now been fully immersed into culinary school and we are reaping the benefits usually two-three servings at a time.  After every class she attends you can find us all huddled in the living room waiting for clock to strike 11, the door to swing open revealing a pastry toting chef, and for the feeding frenzy to commence.  Luckily Shan gets to bring home everything she makes in class from cookies to tarts, they make their way home in a huge cake shaped carrier, think pet carrier but cake shaped, and then they are quickly devoured.

Shannon obviously has a flair for the craft as everything she brings into our home appears professional, and tastes better than everything I have had in a professional kitchen.  It has been incredible watching the evolution of her food as she tinkers with crusts and is slowly given more and more artistic license.  It seems like every time she comes home she completely outdoes herself… again.  Also amazing is her growing excitement for the processes she is learning.  Everything is always better when someone is doing it simply because they love it, it shows in the quality.

Come on over Monday, Wednesday, or Friday and join in to the fun!  It’s funny watching everyone oooh and ahhh over the delicate fruit tarts.  Don’t be surprised if next time we see you we are twice the people you used to know.  Here are some of the exquisite delicacies we get to sample (Unfortunately the light is not great at 11 PM and leaves the pictures somewhat orangey)

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.