Welcome. I set about writing this journal to capture my thoughts and experiences as I attend and participate in Boston University's Culinary Arts program. This is a 14 week program - so things will happen rather quickly. It is my intention to provide you the reader, with a sense of what it's like to breakout into a new career. In my case Culinary Arts.
The idea of cooking for a living never really crossed my mind. That all changed in May of 2003, when after 23 years in the computer industry my career ended. Of course, like everyone else that has been in my shoes, the first thought is too find something, anything. After a couple of months of filling out dozens of applications, sending out god knows how many resumes, it became apparent to me, that the door had really closed behind me. Fortunate like most people I have very good friends, and friends are what is needed the most in a situation like this - to help get your head on straight; think clearly. My close friend Diane came to my aid in the early part of the Summer by offering me a job cooking lunch at her bistro here in town. Diane is an accomplished chef (pastry, and executive). It was through this experience working with Diane, that I discovered - besides loving to eat, that I really liked cooking.
The rest of the story follows.....
Week 1 (January 12 - 15, 2004)
Boston University - yeah man, I not thought in a million years I would end up here. I applied here when I was a senior - majoring in psychology was my dream then. And that's all it would ever be, due to my SAT scores being so low, BU wrote me response to my application "...Sir, your scores are not up to par...We do not feel (at this time) that you meet the necessary requirements in becoming a Freshman here at BU.....blah, blah, blah....
It's the first day - Monday, January 12th. F-ing freezing outside (-40 below - something like that). Left the house (Clinton) at 7:10 am. Arrived at Alewife (in my humble opinion, Boston's "T" is still the best way to navigate the city) at 8:20 am. Switched to the "B" train (Green Line) at Park Street - this is the train that takes one to BU. Rode the B train to the BU West stop - arrived at 9:10 am. Class begins at 10:30 - so I have time to kill. I locate a Starbucks nearby, grab a chai, and a Boston Globe, and relax.
8 students in my class - this is a small class, AND I am the only guy (God still loves me!) To start things off, we received several books to be used throughout the program.
We spend the majority of the week becoming acclimated with the kitchen and each other. Chef John Vyhnanek, is our primary chef instructor (other chefs participate throughout the program).
Each day is divided into two parts. In the morning we lecture from 10:30 - 12:00. Lectures are based on what's being put together in the kitchen during the second part of the day. In the morning, Chef Vyhnanek, discusses with us what we will be preparing in the kitchen after lunch, it's origins (e.g., soups, sauces, other chefs, French influence on cooking, etc.)
The Work Area
Another extremely important skill to master before becoming a chef. Sharpening is very important; the type of stone to use, and the technique. John recommends purchasing a Norton 2" sided oil stone from Home Depot. And a bottle of mineral oil from your local CVS. A little oil is added to the stone; using the course side first, and the stone perpendicular with your body, begin by elevating the knife 22 degrees. move the knife away from you, then towards you again, keeping the blade at a 22 degree pitch.
Cutting vegetables. As with skinning a cat, there are also many ways to cut a vegetable. We used the following types during the week:
Preparations for the week
We prepared some very delicious items this week. Here is a list:
Working as a chef, there are terms that become as important as a sharp knife, or clean pot. They are:
At the conclusion of my first week, I realize that Boston University's Culinary Art's program is exactly the type of program I was looking for. Short but concise, surveying the many different cooking methods and styles. French oh the French, I can't help but realize that I will also become a master in the French language after completing this program
After completing my 14 weeks, I should have a much more extensive "repertoire" of recipes (which my son Bryan will be thankful for) and perhaps the basic skills to land a really cool cooking job - perhaps at a restaurant in Boston - only time will tell...Look out Emril Languase you about to get some competition!