This semester has been going by significantly faster than my first semester on campus did last year. It’s like I woke up this morning, and suddenly we’re halfway to Christmas break. The only explanation I have is that this semester involves a lot more “put your head down and work” kind of classes compared to my first class, which seems truly jovial now in comparison. All the chefs know, or at least expect, that we can take the reigns in class with little supervision or demonstration. For the most part, that’s true because my cohorts and I have been through our summer externship at our respective restaurants, seen the reality of this industry, and strengthened our muscles for being cool, calm, collected, and capable.
After not technically cooking for the past six weeks, my classmates and I were eager to get into the lively groove of a production kitchen again. Our first classes, garde manger and baking, were completely project-focused, meaning we worked in teams to complete the curriculum, but we did not serve any food to the outside. Now, we’ve finally started our cuisine-focused classes, which means we focus on a different country for three days and serve restaurant-style to the students, faculty, and visitors of the school. But, again, since we all just got back from working in the real world, we were itching to feed our addiction to the adrenaline of restaurant service. We started this week with middle eastern food, each team making a different classic plate from a middle eastern country. My group worked on making mezze plates consisting of falafel, dolmades, salads like fattoush and tabbouleh, and fresh pita bread.
In a way, I enjoyed the break from that high-strung energy, but I didn’t realize how much I missed it until the first day of class. This beautiful buzz of life starts the moment we all walk in to start prepping at 6 am when everyone’s eyes are tired. We’re drinking our coffee and our bodies are moving quicker than we thought they could when we first got out of bed. From unloading the colorful produce order to hearing the fryer oil bubble when it gets to the right temperature, the sensations all around us are dynamic and exciting. Our service starts at 11 am and you can’t even believe how fast the time passes to get to that point. Every 15 minutes of prep is precious, and communication and organization between our teammates are of the utmost importance. Things like this are simply good skills to know for life, and it seems that the best cooks to work with are also just amazing people with active, creative minds.