7 Things They Won’t Tell You About Day 1 of Culinary School

Hello, Toto, we’re not in our cozy test kitchen anymore.  And man, has it been an incredibly humbling experience thus far. To be honest, my main takeaways from day numero uno pretty much boil down to (oh hey, I’m probably doing that wrong, too): I really have no clue how to cut an onion. Or a carrot. And I sure as hell don’t know how to cut a potato. Or parsley for that matter. Even better, I have no idea how to sharpen your knife properly to ensure that after incorrectly attempting the aforementioned you at least keep your knife in good shape so you can keep trying. Which, by God, I will!

1. Nobody cares about your fancy job title or your ivy league degree. In fact, you’re probably way cooler if you went to vocational high school for cooking and took a spot on the line for two years fresh out of senior year.  Garde Manger  >>> Manager du Hedge Fund // Culinary Arts  >>>  Liberal Arts.

2. Those years of French you took in high school that you thought would never come in handy (or your dad miserably laments as total “merde”) suddenly becomes way more handy than you ever imagined. Mise en place! Garde Manger! Déglacer! You’ll suddenly derive great pleasure from breaking down these terms into their literal translation and smiling smugly to yourself because you’ll probably score 8.3 points higher than you would have otherwise on the kitchen terms ID quiz next month due to your ability to breakdown words to their roots. Even concassé makes total sense! With breakage. Brilliant!

3. You don’t have to wash your hair! No, really! All it does is stay tucked up in a super tight bun under a big hat all day. What’s the point?

4. A chef’s handshake is like his coat of armor. If someone says “Oh yeah, I’m a cook,” you can pretty much tell whether or not that’s the truth by shaking hands with them. You suddenly find yourself desperately searching for colorful stories for all the calluses, scars and nicks on your hands. A little julienne war wound? Obviously from your trail at Chez Panisse. That Brunoise bruise? Clearly from your stint at French Laundry. Totally not, you know, from lifting weights at the gym or that glass you accidentally smashed on your hand in high school.  Totally.

5. Don’t go grocery shopping the day before class starts. Les whoops. You’ll go home with more baggies of chopped veggies than could be converted into feed at a chicken farm in upstate New York (which coincidentally, your school sends its compost to) and enough minced garlic to have bad breath for nine years.

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6. People will ask you “So, what did you cook?” GUYS I haven’t cooked anything. But did I mention I have a 9lb bag of poorly diagonal-slanted-cut (shoot, what’s that called again?) carrots in my fridge?

7. You will arrive at a dinner party so starving (and not to mention tired from standing on your feet all day), that you will somehow confuse the below spread for one of the 120 types of produce you identified.  Honeycrisp Ham and Fuji Filet Mignon, am I right? (You’ll also wonder how you survived twenty six years of your life without tasting a pummelo).
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