It’s a bittersweet feeling to have only a few days left in my first year of culinary school. On the one hand, my burnout has been growing from long days of classes that feel like work coupled with my internship duties and homework. So it has me ecstatic to spend a week sleeping and recovering before I leave for my externship for the summer. But on the other hand, I look around at my peers’ equally tired but happy faces and the beautiful landscape of the school, and I feel an intense pang of premature nostalgia for everything we have here.
The dining hall is becoming livelier each night as the last days are closer. Groups of students sit together to swap war stories about the classes they went through this semester while cheers-ing with beers from our on-campus brewery.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, I’m currently in the class where we cook for students in the dining hall called The Egg. This cooking style is quite different from the fine-dining training that we were getting before. Instead, we focus on high-volume cooking of quality comfort foods and more casual lunches and dinners that the students want to eat each day.
My station this week was the burger station, and I worked it alone for the majority of the week. While it seemed stressful at first, it was an excellent chance to practice firing several orders at once. I became good at it as I enjoyed the heat and speed of working the blazing hot grill. I came up with a new special burger each day and strengthened the recipe creating muscle that I began working with Norman’s. Yes, I will definitely be sharing some of these ideas when burger season comes.
Another memorable moment from this week was the chance to inoculate shiitake mushroom spores into logs with one of the school’s food systems teachers. A group of us food nerds met in the forest behind campus to drill holes, plug the holes with ground-up mushroom spores mixed with sawdust, and seal them off with beeswax. The logs provide an ideal home for the mushrooms to grow in because of their stored carbohydrates. The mushrooms are expected to be ready for harvest in about a year, and the school will then use them throughout our restaurants.
Until then, I will soak up these last few days in my culinary utopia before moving on to work at Shelburne Farms in Vermont for the summer.