We are officially three weeks away from the end of our second semester and first year of culinary classes at the school, leaving us with only one year left before receiving our official culinary degree. At times, it’s felt like the weeks go by so slowly and painfully, but looking back on it now, my classmates and I are already feeling nostalgia for the time that’s passed. Today marks my completion of Al a Carte, which is one of the hardest classes that we have to take at the Culinary Institute. The header picture is of our mise en place (meaning put in place) for the veggie side dish of our coq au vin. This setup is an example of the kind of organization this class requires at every step of our day. Al a Carte is learning to cook to order, and our class is open for lunch service for every faculty member and student in the school. We rotate between six stations over three weeks, cooking classic french-style dishes using different techniques like grilling, poaching, braising, roasting, and sauteing. We come into class at 6:30 am and set up our prep with our teams of three to have everything we need to cook for service which begins at 11:45. When service time comes, we have only minutes for our team to fire our entire entree with a soup and salad on the side while another classmate yells out orders. It’s sweaty, loud, and always chaotic, but it’s a beautiful and addictive adrenaline rush that has significantly whipped my peers and me into new kinds of cooks over such a short amount of time.