Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Graduation Day

Getting my toque
photographs courtesy of Jenny Lee-Adrian

It's been less than a week since I graduated from The French Culinary Institute, and I still look at my photos over and over again. Graduation was bittersweet. My classmates and I became pretty close, getting together to study in Level 1 and hanging out after class ended late at night. We emailed class notes and text-messaged each other about cooking techniques. We gave one another pointers about how to make sure those lamb chops were medium-rare for service at L'Ecole, and we talked about how to make agnolotti into perfect pasta pillows filled with herbed goat cheese.

Roast lamb with agnolotti and swiss chard
Roast lamb chops with agnolotti and swiss chard are served at L'Ecole.

Nine months ago in June, I remember sitting nervously at a table, introducing myself over and over again as a new classmate walked in the door for orientation. We didn't know each other then, but we leaned on one another throughout all six levels.

Justine and Alex
Justine Vella rests on Alex MacPhail after service ends at L'Ecole.

Reminding me of a totem pole, Chef Scott Larson watched over us in Levels 5 and 6, during our time pulling out dishes for the school's restaurant.

Chef Scott's typical stance in the kitchen
Chef Scott's typical stance in the kitchen

More satisfaction comes from carving my own portions of meat. I can break down a whole duck and fillet a fish.

Cutting lamb
Ryan Abril portions lamb chop servings.

The heat pressed on my face in the kitchen. But I could look across the room and my friends would crack me up.
Ryan on duck and Brandon on lamb
Ryan Abril (left) and Brandon Touchstone (right) take a mental break from cooking to look up.

Our chef-instructors were adamant that we work clean and fast. They constantly pushed us to be better.

Chef Janet taking a picture of us
From left: Chef Xavier "X" Mayonove, Chef Greg Wozniak, Chef Janet Crandall, and Chef Scott Larson take note of us getting ready to graduate.

The toque

I may look like a chef with a toque on top of my head, but graduation is just the starting point. I have so much more to learn, and I want to cook as much as I can.

Jenny Lee-Adrian graduated from the Classic Culinary Arts program on March 31, 2011. She is currently an intern in the Saveur test kitchen. She has a blog called Hummingbird Appetite.

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