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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I didn’t want those taste buds…

Last night Shannon and I got to head down into Soho to the French Culinary Institute {FCI} to watch a demonstration by their head of school and a world leading food scientist, then Shannon and I split ways to sit in on a pastry and culinary course, and then were ushered down to dinner in their restaurant.  It was an extremely interesting night!

The Demonstration was incredible.  We sat in there auditorium while two of the head chefs blew our minds.  We first were given a cup of a crushed up herb, shady I know, and told to swish it around our mouths.  As it turns out the herb contained a chemical in it that temporarily blocks off the taste of any sugars on the tongue!  We were them given a plate of various items to taste and explore how taking away sugar from something would effect it.  On the plate were things like: a strawberry, skittle, packet of sugar, cookie, marshmallow, blackberry, chocolate, etc.  It was one of the most bizarre things I have ever experienced.  The marshmallow felt like chewing on foam, and was absolutely flavorless.  There was just no flavor in my mouth.  The strawberry and blackberry alike were super sour.  The chocolate was just that creamy texture in my mouth without any flavor present at all.  The packet of sugar might as well have been sand.  It was truly bizarre.  Luckily over time the presentation moved on, and our taste buds revived themselves.  Throughout the rest of the presentation we covered new sciences and their applications in the cooking world.  For example: Meat Glue.  A compound that has the ability to bond ANY two proteins together on a molecular level.  It actually makes them into the same item.  You could bond soy beans to buffalo meat if you wanted.  We used it in the demo to bond prosciutto around hamachi tuna, for the purpose if it not coming undone during cooking and ease of cutting.  We created liquid nitrogen ice cream.  Used vacuum chambers to pickle onions in 30 seconds.  Played with various mushroom cooking methods for the best results.  Everything.  It was all extremely fascinating, and delicious.

The class was incredible.  I spent 2 hours in class with some of the lower levels students who were learning to create: rice puddings, risottos, gnocci, and ravioli from scratch.  It was actually extremely impressive.  The head chef was on everyone, blasting technique and method into all of them.  I saw a little bit of talent in that kitchen and whole lot of sweating and frantic people who were in way over their heads.  I am not sure they are going to like where they find themselves when they pop out of that class, it was obvious that none of them had been near a restaurant kitchen before.  It was really reassuring for me to see this in action, mainly because I feel like I must have a head start on most of these cooks.

Dinner was great considering the price!  We had a 5 course prix fixe menu.  1: Smoked Salmon with fennel puree  2: striped sea bass over artichoke hearts and buckwheat crepes  3: Lamb over mushroom ragu with garlic mashed potatoes  4: Digestive salad of iced ricotta with lemon, frisee, balsamic, and crushed pistachios  5: a trio of pot de cremes (carmel with sea salt, chocolate with candied orange peal, dark chocolate with hazelnut and coffee)  and a cheese board.  All accompanied by a bottle of French Malbec.  It was all pretty good!  The students from the upper two levels of the culinary classes prepare the food for the restaurant, and everything came out great!

After gorging ourselves, we strolled the mile walk home, and chatted about what is coming up next.  Result:  No idea.  We both are so conflicted about what to do right now.  If anyone has any ideas, we could use some input.  Anyways, that’s our culinary adventure up until this point!  Here are some pictures from the demo: