Friday, May 30, 2008

Saveur the Cuisine

Yesterday, I had the wonderful opportunity to tour the New York office of Saveur magazine as part of a French Culinary Institute club outing.

I love to follow food trends and culture and have been a loyal subscriber to Saveur magazine since its inception. I can even remember the day I got my hands on the very first issue. I was working as a paralegal after a failed attempt in the food industry and a colleague handed me the magazine to peruse Prior to my paralegal position, my partner at the time and I bought a rotisserie/catering company that specialized in comfort take-out food. At that point the business of food was already in my blood having worked a stint at an upscale café under the direction of a Belgian chef and his endearing wife who managed the entire operation. So my baptism by fire into the business was invigorating and tapped into my innate passion for food. Unfortunately, our food company was gobbled up like an amuse bouche in the recession of the early 90s hence my professional diversion into the legal field.

One article among many that has stayed with me from the early days of Saveur was about the Italian-American kitchen in San Francisco (I can even picture the cover in my mind) – the writing, photography and editorial content of the magazine was so authentic and presented undiscovered or overlooked topics that other magazines just weren’t covering. I found the articles to be written with sincere enthusiasm and depth – it was nourishment that fueled my own appetite for all things food-related. I’ve devoured every issue since then and was thrilled to have the opportunity to see where it all actually happens.

I met up with the group of students who signed up for the tour at FCI and we headed over to Saveur. We toured the offices and stepped into their newly completed modern test kitchen – it was gorgeous. The office has natural light coming in from three sides of the building and the kitchen was filled with warm light that welcomed you with open arms.

Food Editor, Todd Coleman, took the time to meet with us and answer all of our questions – it was great to get an insider’s look into the creative structure of what makes Saveur, well…Saveur! I felt like a groupie getting a full-access backstage pass at some sold out rock concert, or one of those celebrity chasers who finally have the opportunity to meet the person they have admired for so long. Another part of me felt the experience was like meeting an old friend – you know the kind of friend you haven’t seen for awhile but has known you forever and the flow of conversation is just effortless. Yeah, Saveur and I, we go way back.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Beat the Clock

So on to Level III, new kitchen, new Chef Instructor, new game plan. Here’s the scoop – we work with the same partner as we go through the following stations: Garde Manger, Poissonnier, Saucier, and Pâtissier. My partner for the level is Michele, a successful attorney who has turned her passion for food into a second career option. Michele and I have a very similar style in the kitchen, we like to be organized, prepared and execute our dishes in a timely manner. We start on the pastry station and our task list for the night is Tarte aux Pommes, Crème Chantilly, Crème Choux, and Sauce au Chocolat.

The new space we are in is an old, beat-up kitchen that has seen better days! It has a very authentic feel, it is cramped and none of us have any idea of where anything is located – so we are running around like lost school children.

It’s all about timing and consistency in Level III – dishes must be presented at a specific time and the pace is rigorous. Everyone was working in their own little bubble – the kitchen was humming along. I don’t think anyone plated on time – we were all pretty late and Chef expected this to happen since the recipes are quite involved and it was our first night.

We were quite stressed out – it was almost as if we never cooked before in our lives and the recipes were written in some foreign language. Michele and I worked hard to get everything plated – we ran into some road blocks, when we put our choux in the convection oven it was set to a cool-down mode so they never fully baked. Luckily we had extra dough left over and started again. The Crème Chantilly was prepared and the Sauce au Chocolat was ready. We piped our choux and plated them for Chef to review.

It was a tough night and I felt beaten down by the clock. I was really worn out by the end of the evening and commiserated with Marcela who felt the same way. In Level III we rotate to a different station every two classes. I can only hope I will get faster and more confident in the dishes we are required to make since they will be on my mid-term exam. At almost 11:00 pm I was applying the apricot glaze to my apple tart and at the same time my eyes were glazing over.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Curtain Falls on Level II

Last night we had our two exams, our last evaluation by Chef and a discussion about what to expect in Level III. I was nervous as usual, on Sunday I wanted to practice quartering a chicken so I headed over to Stop n’ Shop to get some groceries and a whole chicken. I was caught up in studying and getting myself ready for the work week and the clock ticked away. Before I knew it time had slipped away and I found myself practicing my knife skills at 10:30 PM on this over-sized roasting chicken. It seems every chicken presents its own set of challenges – so I carved my way around the bird and set the pieces in a marinade for later consumption.

Monday arrived bright and early, it is always very hard for me to wake up since I sleep like a dead person. I almost never hear the alarm clock and somehow my own body clock forces my eyes open just so I have enough time to shower, shave and get out of the house to catch the train. Ok, so I’m not a morning person – I blame it on my Sleep Apnea!

Anyway, I grab a cup of coffee at the Fleetwood train station – the coffee is damned good – don’t know what exactly he grinds for beans but I savor every sip on my quick trip into the city.

After working all day, I get ready to head to school with a nervous stomach knowing that I have to do well on two exams that night. I’ve studied and concentrated on the things I know we will be asked on the test. As for the Practical, well, it is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-chef-pants kinda moment.

I arrive at school, change into my chef-whites, checkered pants and kitchen clogs and head to the student lounge. I decide to spend about 20 minutes in the gorgeous FCI library that is chock full of just about everything. My pal Marcela comes in and we talk about what we’ve studied and how we are feeling for the tests. My nerves are eased off by our conversation – Marcela loves to cook as much as I do and she respects the program and wants to do well – just like me. We are very simpatico – and can laugh and joke with each other one minute and be on-task the very next moment. In the kitchen of life our relationship is a very happy marriage.

We set off downstairs to the first floor kitchen to take our Practical exam. Our first task is to take 2 potatoes and make as many perfect 5 cm cocottes in 20 minutes. Chef signals us to start and we are off! I peel those spuds as fast as I can and cut each potato into 12 pieces. Time ticks away and I end up with about a dozen very nice cocottes.

Next, Mayonnaise from memory – we gather our ingredients and get ready. A good Mayonnaise is simply a proper emulsion of one egg yolk, 1 level tbs. of good Dijon, a ¼ tsp. of salt, ½ tsp. of vinegar or lemon juice, some ground pepper and 150 ml of oil. And we’re off, a cacophony of whisks beating against metal bowls fills the kitchen. I’m happy with my emulsion, my mayonnaise is thick, has a nice shine and the flavor is good, maybe slightly salty. When we are done we are asked to leave the kitchen so we can be judged by the proctors.

Lastly, the fish then the chicken get their turn on the chopping board. The fish presented a problem for most of the students, the flesh is so delicate that it is so easy to hack away at it with a unsteady knife. I scaled the slippery bass, trimmed it and cut off the head. When it came down to removing the fillets I do a fair job, definitely not my best work. Lastly, the chicken was fairly easy and once we were done we cleaned up and sanitized everything.

After our family meal, we headed up to a classroom to take our written exam. Chef gave us an opportunity to study in groups and we quizzed each other briefly. At the end of the night, we were given our grades for the Practical and Chef gave us his last written evaluation. I was pleased with both grades but knew I could have done a better job with my knife skills – it just takes practice.

Chef gave us some pointers on what to expect for the next 7 weeks, he talked about our Mid-term and he wished us the best since we will no longer be working under his instruction. We gave Chef a round of applause – he worked hard to teach us the basics and I know his effort will reflect on my approach to cooking.

Chef’s critique, style, knowledge and guidance have proven to be the most prized ingredients any culinary student could hope to work with in the kitchen. Merci beaucoup, Chef – many thanks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

In the French-style

Somehow after all these weeks, we’ve arrived in our last class of Level II. A sense of accomplishment settles in and then a wave of anxiety washes over me as I ponder what challenges Level III will present.

In our last class in this level, we learn about French-style vegetable preparations: Ratatouille and Confit Bayaldi. Before I go into those recipes I wanted to take a moment to reflect on the past 6 weeks. We covered a lot of territory in this level such as braising, stuffing, organ meat, eggs, pastry dough, meringue, custards, mousses, soufflés, ice cream, nutrition, vegetable preparations, cheese, pasta and rice. It was jammed packed and we learned a lot – hopefully most of it will stick in my brain.

In our next class we will have our Level II Practical & Comprehensive exams – so Chef took some time to go over material, things we should expect and what we will be required to do. From what I can gather for our Practical exam we need to do 4 things really well. 1. Fillet a fish; 2. Quarter a chicken; 3. Make a mayonnaise; and 4. Cut as many perfect cocottes from two potatoes – all of these exercises are timed for 20 minutes each. Our Comprehensive exam covers the Level II curriculum in our book and is the written part of our examination.

Tonight we also had our HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) exam which is a New York State administered exam for food handlers. Passing the HACCP exam grants you a food handlers license and is good for 5 years. The exam tests us on safe food handling practices, kitchen management and food-bourne illnesses. After taking the exam which consisted of 80 questions I felt good about it – I had studied well and felt like I passed with no problem.

Class moved along at a quick pace since we had to prep our Ratatouille and Confit Bayaldi. I love a good Ratatouille, when I worked in a professional kitchen environment eons ago we had it on our menu. I remember watching the assistant Chefs prep all the vegetables and cook each separately then combine all the cooked ingredients together to blend the flavors. I loved the Ratatouille fresh off the stove – I would grab a piece of sage focaccia bread that had a sprinkling of sea salt – the soft bread was wonderful with the warm medley of cooked vegetables. Enjoying the simplicity of flavors and textures it was one of my most favorite impromptu lunches at that café.

The Confit Bayaldi is a vegetable preparation that is started on top of the stove by sautéing some onions and julienned peppers. Once the onions and peppers have sufficiently cooked down in the blended olive oil place thin slices of Japanese eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and fresh tomatoes in a spiral pattern on top of the mixture. The pattern of overlapping vegetables gets a drizzle of thyme/garlic-infused extra virgin olive oil. The sauté pan is covered with foil that has been poked full of holes so steam can escape and then transferred to a 325 degree oven to further cook. Near the end of cooking, the foil comes off and the Confit Bayaldi achieves a golden crust. I presented my dish to Chef who liked it and said it was well-prepared – one taste and I was reminded just how good simple food can be.

Going with the grain

Rice and pasta – comfort foods in my repertoire of quick-fix dinners. Pasta to many is an enemy – because of the power of those addictive carbs! Ever have that feeling like you could eat that whole pound of pasta by yourself? I know I fall victim to the carb-curse – it pulls you in wanting more and more. You just have to know when to say enough is enough.

In class, we made a couple of dishes that had me in that carb-crazed daze of eating. We started by making Gnocchi in a brown butter sage sauce. A simple dough made from baked potato, flour, eggs and salt. We mixed the ingredients together and made sure not to over work the dough. We rolled out some dough and shaped it into a long cylinder. We cut that into bite size morsels and had a pot of boiling salted water ready for the Gnocchi. As they cooked we made our brown butter sauce, added some sage, drained the Gnocchi and added them to the sauce to gave it a quick toss in the buttery sauce. Very yummy, light and tasty.

Next we took a hand at making our own pasta dough. We combined all the ingredients and worked that dough for about 15 minutes giving it a real good kneading – here you want to develop the gluten from the flour. Afterwards the dough needs to rest before rolling it through the pasta machine.

Chef made a green pasta dough and a plain dough, he rolled them out cut strips from each and fused them together to make a beautiful stripped pasta sheet that he used to make ravioli. We followed suit and did the same and also prepped a simple tomato sauce. My partner and I had fun working with the pasta, but it was challenging as it dried out very quickly and we had a tough time sticking the colored stripped dough together. In the end we made 4 to 5 raviolis that were tasty.

After our dinner break we made a Saffron Risotto and Rice Pudding. I’ve made risotto a bunch of times before so I let my cooking partner handle it while I made the Riz au Lait (rice pudding). One just needs patience when making risotto – knowing when to add liquid little by little is key. Our rice pudding was made with Arborio rice that simmered in milk infused with orange and lemon zests, and vanilla bean. By the end of the night, I was in a carb-induced coma. I just couldn’t say “no” to the buttery Gnocchi, or the pretty stripped ravioli, or the golden-hued Saffron Risotto, or the melting creaminess of the Riz au Lait. I think I need a 12-step program…know of any?

Friday, May 16, 2008

Behold, the power of cheese!

Cheese…so many varieties, textures, flavors and ways to savor. Our class time was split between learning about cheese, making our own ricotta and mozzarella and having a cheese tasting.

We were all given a block of cheese curd that looked like a big chunk of tofu that we broke up into smaller piece and let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. We brought a pot of water up to 180 degrees and then added our curd. We slowly simmered the curd until it melted from the heat of the water. We drained the curd from the water and let it cool slightly, we prepared a bowl of ice water and pull off pieces of cheese to make a mini mozzarella ball called a bocconcino. The mozzarella had a plastic texture and little flavor if any. I suggest buying quality mozzarella from your cheese monger.

The ricotta making process was interesting, we brought some milk up to a simmer, added a pinch of salt and citric acid. The acid reacts with the milk and helps separate the proteins. Once the curds separate from the whey, we drained the cheese using cheesecloth and tied the cheese up into a ball. Once that was accomplished we dangled the cheese ball over a small bowl to catch residual moisture. Again, my feeling is to leave the cheese making to the people that do it full-time. The ricotta was just alright – lacked any type of flavor and is easier to purchase it rather than going through the process of making your own. I enjoyed learning how to make cheese and would love to learn more…but similar to medical practice, I think there are food specialties that one could further delve into – such as cheese making, pastry and bread baking – I’m happy to experience all the different aspects of culinary arts and have plenty of time to decide if I want to be a general food practitioner or a specialist in my field.

Toward the end of class we had our cheese tasting that was portioned into specific categories. We had cow’s milk then goat and sheep milk cheeses and dairy products. We started by sampling different milk from all three categories, then yogurts and fresh cheeses. The object was to understand and differentiate from subtle flavors, textures and characteristics. Overall the cow’s milk products were unsatisfying, the yogurt was very sour, the fresh ricotta cheese was bland and whole milk is just something I never drink. On the flip side the goat’s milk was delicious and the yogurt and goat cheese quite nice. The sheep’s milk was gamy, but the yogurt and fresh cheese lovely.

We went on to tasting cheeses…again, all cow’s milk cheeses were sampled first then goat then on to sheep. Out of all the cheeses my favorites were in both the goat and sheep’s milk category. The Chabichou was sublime – a fresh goat cheese with a rind, the texture was velvety and finish almost sweet. My next favorite was the Garroxta from Spain – a semi-firm cheese with a hay-like or citrus aroma that mellowed to a yummy creaminess on the palate. Lastly, the Ossau Iraty and Roquefort were my hands down favorites. The Ossau Iraty was nutty, a firm sheep’s milk cheese that had a comforting creamy flavor. The Roquefort was complex, robust, salty, sweet, sharp and it had a long finish that sweetened over time. My take on the whole experience – eat more cheese and experiment with others you've never even considered trying - they may surprise you and become your new favorites!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


We had an interesting class that was completely unstructured. The recipe for the night, Filet de Limande à votre façon (Filet of Flounder however we wanted to cook it). Chef instructed us a few classes back that on this night we will have to fillet a flounder, prepare it our own way, with an accompanying vegetable and starch and a canapé to go with the dish.

The kitchen had all the usual ingredients at our disposal, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, zucchini, rice, spices and herbs. This was a good challenge for all of us and it allowed each student to make something that reflected their talent, vision and style.

I stressed about what to make for days. I decided to use one of the fillets to make a fish cake for my canapé. A few days before class, I bought some flounder fillets to practice recipes. My fish cake fell apart as I sautéed it so I researched other recipes. For my main entrée I decided to make a butter/white wine/lime juice braised flounder wrapped in a spiral with a beurre blanc sauce that had the essence of lime. I made a gorgeous potato gratin with gruyère cheese and simple haricot verts almondine.

The time flew by that night, I was racing to make everything. Marcella and I prepared a fish stock from the flounder bones to use in our sauces. The fish itself cooks in 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven so I was very careful not to overcook this very delicate fish. Down to the wire my potatoes were done and were kept warm, my haricot verts were cooked and shocked to keep their color. At the last minute I sautéed them with some toasted almonds. I made my sauce last since it was the most delicate of all the components of the dish. The beurre blanc was velvety and just plated so beautifully. Chef critiqued all of our dishes and our presentation styles. His main issue with my dish was that it was too rich! The creamy potatoes, the loaded-with-butter sauce and the butter-braised fish were too much for Chef’s cholesterol. He asked me rhetorically what was for dessert, I retorted – a heart attack.

Kitchen Math 101

The lectures continue! This time a class on food control and costing. A Chef not only has to be a superstar in the kitchen he or she must be a good business person as well.

Our class meet in our normal kitchen-classroom – all of us gathered around to watch a short film on food costing, recipe costing, edible portion estimating, yields and math! I was glazing over – I know this stuff is important and I paid attention but once I hear percentages divided by yield factors equals usable edible portion cost – I go to a happy place in my brain.

Luckily, our lecture was only half of the allotted class time and we were able to make one recipe – Poulet en Cocotte Printanière (Chicken Stew with Spring Vegetables). We started by trussing the chicken carefully with some kitchen string. In a sautoir we sautéed the chicken on all sides to achieve a golden crisp crust. We finished cooking the chicken in a 425 degree oven with some mirepoix. On the side we prepared the spring vegetables which consisted of pearl onions, haricots verts, peas, carrots, and turnips – all prepped and cook separately and ready to be reheated in time to plate.

When the chicken was out of the oven, we used the same pan and degreased it of fat and then deglazed the pan with white wine to make a jus. We each plated a dish for Chef to review and I was very happy with the result of my chicken stew, the jus was perfect and the presentation was elegant for a simple country-style dish. Chef liked it as well and asked me where were the peas? I forgot to use them in my rush to plate the dish quickly – it was probably subliminal since peas are on my “not a fan” list. I’ll eat them when they are in stews and braises but on their own I think they are a lot of work for little return.

Veggin' Out

We had our last lecture on nutrition and then went right into making some healthy alternatives. Tonight, it was all about vegetarian foods – we made an Artichoke Heart, Fennel, Watercress Salad with a Grapefruit Citronette, Falafel, Roasted Spaghetti Squash with a Tomato Caper Sauce, Babaganoush, and finally Tabouleh.

The salad we made was bitter, unattractive and the Citronette dressing was very bitter. No balance in the dish – everyone hated it. I don’t event think Chef liked it. We moved on to Falafel which is ground chickpeas, garlic, parsley, cilantro lemon juice, cumin, salt, pepper, breadcrumbs and a little baking soda. I really love Falafel so I was excited to learn how to make this dish. It was really quite easy, after soaking the dry chickpeas, we processed them with the garlic, herbs and seasonings. We then added the lemon juice, baking soda, bread crumbs and gently mixed the ingredients together. We let the mixture rest for about 30 minutes and then proceeded to roll golf-ball size Falafels to fry in 350 degree oil until golden.

Meanwhile as this was happening, we were roasting our spaghetti squash and eggplant together for the other recipes. My cooking partner for the evening, Ashley, took the reigns on the spaghetti squash and I went to work on the Babaganoush.

The roasted eggplant flesh was soft and easily removed from it’s skin. I processed the eggplant with some lemon juice, olive oil, tahini (sesame paste), a clove of garlic and some parsley. Here’s what I would have changed…I would have roasted the garlic with the eggplant to mellow it out. Otherwise, the mixture was good with a healthy kick of garlic. For some reason every time I eat eggplant the inside of my mouth itches. I don’t know if I’m having some reaction but it is the weirdest thing – it won’t stop me from eating it. A friend of mine calls eggplant “the poor man’s meat” I’m guessing because it has a hefty texture and can stand up to grilling, roasting, frying, and it’s oh so good in eggplant parmesan.

At this point in the night, we were running out of time and had to make the Tabouleh. We soaked the bulghar wheat in a cup of boiling water and let is soak for about 25 minutes. We chopped some fresh parsley, mint, tomatoes, and combined all of this with the nutty bulghar and added lemon juice and olive oil.

Simple dishes to add to your repertoire of weekly meals. These middle eastern favorites are great for summer entertaining too!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Nutrition: Fat is NOT the enemy!

This past class we spent a lot of time talking about fat. For decades fat has been the enemy in rhetoric thrown about by the media, dieticians, doctors, etc. Well, how does this come into play with the French diet? All that butter, foie gras, pastry – that can’t possibly be healthy, right?

The secret to a healthy diet is truly moderation, not too much meat, fat, and carbs. The American diet is chock full of processed, overly sweetened, convenience-oriented fast foods. We eat so much garbage when it comes to processed foods, all that stuff is full of chemical preservatives that help it maintain a long shelf life. What happened to going to the market on a daily basis to buy food for dinner, buying the freshest meats and vegetables…we are so far away from that model of eating. American society is far more sedentary, much less active than our European friends, and more dependant of food that is fast, easy and ultimately not healthy for us.

Let me get my soap box to stand on…the low-carb, low-fat, diet craze is a multi-billion dollar business – companies are getting rich and we are getting sick. We are an over-fed, nutritionally deficient country – it is truly a shame and the incidences of diet-related diseases and obesity are astounding. We don’t need supplements, extra vitamins in pill form, or energy drinks to live better. What we need is a balanced diet of whole foods (grass-fed beef, organic, wild-caught fish), whole grains, fresh fruit and more vegetables – oh, and booze is good for you too! Everything in moderation, is the rule of thumb. This is why the French can eat foie gras, drink a glass a wine or two, eat gourmet food and stay healthy. Portion control is key and eating lower glycemic foods are more beneficial to your diet and metabolism.

These past few classes really opened my eyes. I’ve learned not only about basic nutrition but more on how to eat better, shop wisely, prepare healthier food and become an advocate for locally produced food – support your local farmers and green markets! Read about the slow food movement.

I’m getting off my soap box, for goodness sake, go eat some kale!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Nutrition: It Does A Body Good!

As chefs-in-training we are taught the basics about nutrition. Nutrition is a fascinating subject for me, I love food and learning about how nutrients effect our body in terms of health and disease.

We have a different Chef teaching us about nutrition who has attended FCI and who also has a Masters from NYU in food service. We learned about the three categories of macronutrients including proteins, lipids and carbohydrates. As a living breathing person we need a large amount of these to maintain weight and health.

There are also micronutrients that we require but in lesser amounts, these are vitamins and minerals. For the first half of the class we have a lecture and the second half we prep and make one recipe. On this night we made a Filet of Striped Bass over Puy Lentils. The lecture was very interesting, a lot of information to take in at once. Afterwards we prepped our mise en place, filleted the bass which gets easier and easier. I’m no longer feeling daunted when confronted with a whole fish. The only thing that kind of grosses me out is when we have to use our melon baller to scoop out the fish eyes. If we use the heads for fish stock, the eyes have got to go.

Our dish had many components, we cooked the lentils first with some aromatic vegetables, we glazed some pearl onions, we made a vinaigrette as the sauce and then finally we sautéed the bass fillets skin side down until crispy on one side, then flipped over to cook for less then a minute on the delicate fleshy side. My partner Michele and I plated our food and presented, Chef wanted the pearl onions cooked a little more and thought the vinaigrette could have been thinned out a bit.

Our next two classes will continue on the theme of nutrition – so more on that in my next few posts.

The Incredible Edible Egg or Cooking is Like Sex

When I took my weekend sojourn to London, I missed one class which happened to cover the varied spectrum of eggs. So, I was able to reschedule the missed class for this past week with a Level II class that meets on the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday evening schedule.

Flat omelets, rolled omelets, poached, fried, soft-boiled, hard-boiled, sunnyside up, over easy, scrambled, cocotte (cooked in a ramekin with cream), stuffed…an almost endless amount of ways to serve this simple staple of our diet.

I could go on about how Chef showed us how to roll a good omelet or timing of a perfectly cooked egg – but something else seemed to peak my interest in class.

When I walked into the kitchen to set up my mise en place, I introduced myself to the assistant Chef and the Chef-instructor as a courtesy so that they understood why I was there. There were about 20 students in class and maybe 2 or 3 of them came over to me and introduced themselves. I found this interesting since the kitchen is a generally social environment. Now, I’ve worked in kitchens at different times in my life so I feel I’ve had a fair amount of experience in this setting. There was a weird vibe in that class – I couldn’t put my finger on it. It felt completely different than my usual classes. Overall, the students’ level of acuity was lackluster, unwelcoming, stiff. In this class students are paired with the same partner, at the same station for each class. How boring! I love working with different people no matter what their skill level. Cooking is like sex – sometimes you call the shots, sometimes you’re on the bottom and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you plate at the same time.

I left class that night with a greater appreciation for my own classmates (I love you guys!), our personalities, differences, skills and sense of humor blend together like a wonderfully seasoned and composed dish – all the components that make cooking and eating together a pleasure.