When I step into the kitchen at L'Ecole tonight, there will be a little extra pressure. Not only am I responsible for developing the canape tonight for all the customers in the restaurant to taste but two groups of friends have dinner reservations, too.

For me, cooking for people you know always seems more difficult. You want them to be impressed, to eat well and to feel like you put out the best dish possible.

I'm planning to use the famed Chicago-based Alinea as inspiration. I've decided my first attempt will be to construct a kumquat filled with aquavit gelatin topped with a picholine olive and caraway powder. If that fails, I'm sticking my hopes on bacon - anything with bacon tastes good, right?

If you have other suggestions, feel free to comment. I'm more than happy to entertain other ideas.

As for working in L'Ecole, it's been very good so far getting experience on the various stations. I have to admit, however, that paying the school so you can work in the kitchen is a little disheartening at times. But I guess, how different is that from med students who have to pay someone while they're doing a residency?

But when people enjoy your food or the server tells you that a dish you cooked is receiving complimentary reviews in the dining room, all those thoughts about money don't seem to matter as much. The pressure doesn't seem as bad either.