Friday, April 09, 2010

Student profile: Cooking by the Book

Kim Beeman, 31
Hometown: Boise, Idaho
Current city: Jackson Heights, Queens

This January, after thinking about it for a long, long time, I started culinary school at The FCI. I have been the librarian here for almost four years; I love both cooking and cookbooks. Although I have a modest background in pastry (including stints with a chocolatier, at a bakery, and at a couple of restaurants), I wanted to do something more serious and structured. My pastry experience was hodgepodge. I felt I needed a firmer foundation in basic techniques.

I am almost a third of the way through the professional culinary program now. My knife skills (not to mention my knife-sharpening skills) are much improved, I can quarter a chicken with my eyes closed (well, not quite, but almost!), and I have developed a real appreciation of brown veal stock. I am looking forward to the next few months, when I will have a chance to put these new skills to the test.

When I started the program, one of my biggest concerns was the schedule. I work in the library Monday through Friday during the day, so I enrolled in the Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday evening class. That means some long days—Tuesdays and Thursdays I am at the school from 8 a.m. to 10:45 p.m.—but it has gone smoothly, more smoothly than I anticipated in fact. I find that being in the library and being in the classroom are so different that I don’t get tired, at least not while I’m still cooking! Back in January, my October graduation date seemed impossibly far away. But now that I’m further into the program, it seems like it’s approaching far too quickly.

After I graduate, I will still be working in the library. I love the cookbooks—and students and chefs—I work with too much to do anything else! Being a student, though, has helped me to understand the school in a whole new way. I have a much greater appreciation of what hard work the students are doing. I also know what days they make soufflés and steaks and all of my other favorite dishes—all the better for planning “impromptu” visits to the classrooms!

If you visit the school, I hope you will get a chance to drop by the library. We have a fantastic collection of cookbooks, and I am happy to talk about them or about my experiences as a student. Although I had some concerns when I first started—about balancing work and school, about giving up my Saturday nights, about making it all work—I couldn’t be happier. I feel so lucky to be here, and so excited about all that is yet to come!

As librarian extraordinaire Kim Beeman makes sure The FCI library is stocked with the latest and most interesting of what is being published about food and drink. She is currently enrolled in the Classic Culinary Arts program at The FCI. Her desert-island cookbook (for the moment, anyhow!) would be The Lutèce Cookbook, although she has a huge weekness for the extremely kooky Bull Cook series by George Leonard Herter.

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