A Month of Firsts

Sorry it's taken me so long to update! Honestly, my day to day classroom activities haven't been particularly exciting. Therefore, I've decided to highlight the more exciting bits from the last month or so through a list of "firsts" that I've had either in class or in New England.

  • I roasted my first whole chicken. For our practical exam in New World Cuisine, each student had to make pomme frites, grilled vegetables, a grilled pork chop and a whole roasted chicken with pan gravy. FYI - 18 roasted chickens feeds a lot of people.
  • I finished my first trimester of culinary school. That one is still hard for me to believe. 11 weeks down. 22 to go! (Although now it's more like 19 to go...) Below is a class picture from our last day together. Since this picture was taken, I've started a new term with almost all new faces.

  • I failed a uniform inspection...sort of. The class that I'm in the middle of right now is called Meatcutting, and my instructor is arguably the strictest instructor in the school. No one received perfect marks for the uniform on day one so I can't beat myself up too much. On the first day, however, my instructor demonstrated with an iron and ironing board how he expects us to iron our uniform each day. Needless to say, it takes me a minimum of an hour and half each day to get my uniform looking up to par.

  • I was yelled at for the first time. My first class of the new trimester was Purchasing and Product Identification. Basically, we spent 6 hours a day in the Johnson and Wales pantry learning to identify ingredients only based on sight. We also had to put together bins of requested ingredients for all of the other ongoing classes in the university. On one of the first days of this class, my group needed 1 bunch of basil for our bin. I filled a lunch-sized paper bag halfway with basil leaves. We continued to gather the rest of our ingredients until the bin was completed. When one of the TAs was checking the bin, she yelled out in front of the entire storeroom (instructors, TAs and whoever else happened to be listening) that someone from my group hadn't gotten enough basil. I owned up to my mistake, and then she proceeded to make fun of my in front of the class.

  • My first New England snow! Yes, the winter has begun, and it's snowed a few times since I've been here. My northern friends insist that what I've seen is only a dusting and the worst (or best depending on how you look at it) is yet to come.

  • I went home for the first time since the end of August. After a long few months away from home, I finally returned home for Thanksgiving and am now home again for Christmas. There really is no other place like home for the holidays.

  • I bought my first snow brush and first ice scraper. If only some of you could have seen my poor, pathetic self wandering around Wal-Mart trying to find the ice scrapers. I must have searched this one aisle for a solid 20 minutes before I realized that there was an entire de-icing/snow brush/ice scraper section a few aisles over. I bought lots of snow protection gear for my car, but I'm not entirely sure how to use all of it yet.

  • I used the snow brush and ice scraper for the first time. I was pretty excited about doing this for the first time because I thought that I would feel like a real New Englander. Instead, my hands went numb halfway through the process and I accidentally brushed snow onto my pants which then melted all over me.

  • I met my first famous chef. Chef Marcus Samuelsson, executive chef of New York City's Aquavit, came to perform a demo at Johnson and Wales. I'm a member of a club which volunteers around the university for open houses, community classes, and demos so I had the opportunity to work with him in the kitchen! I was incredibly nervous because the only time I had ever seen him was as a judge on "The Next Food Network Star" and he was pretty stern on the show. He was incredibly charismatic in person though!