A Lesson Learned

When I first went to culinary school at the Culinary Institute of America, I had grandiose dreams of one day being an executive chef. My mind was filled with ideas for restaurants, menu designs, and plans for my future. Since I took my break for back surgery back in May, I never imagined that even before my graduation that I’d attain such an honor in my young career. Yet, due to some strange people and multiple chefs quitting, here I am, an Executive Chef at the age of 24.

The lessons that have been taught to me in these short few months could not have opened my eyes more to the true reality of being a head chef. In school, its something you idolize, but in the real world, its not nearly as exotic or fun. It takes a great deal of patience to deal with all of the issues on the line, the drama of your cooks, staff, and of course, the owners. You need to spend each day thinking about specials for the week, delegation of prep work, timing everything down to the minute and second. Inventory constantly runs out, and precise ordering is always so critical. Is your mind tough enough to handle the constant pressure of cooking and devoting all of your free time, your social life, to the restaurant?

No longer does the day just end when I clock out at work. I’m forced to think about the day ahead, sometime even weeks ahead, triple and quadruple check everything in my head just to make sure we are prepared for the forthcoming days ahead. Restaurant Week, where multiple local fine dining places offered their very best for only $20.10, taught me true patience. Orders never stop coming in. No lull, no end till the nights over. My attention only is on my work.

If you would ask me, to do it all over again, I would tell you that time and experience are a chef’s two greatest allies. No lesson I could learn over and over again that doesn’t deeply educate you on what it really takes to run a good place. Do you want to work 6 to 7 days a week, work long hours doing back breaking labor, only to do it over and over again each and every day. I learned so much about responsibility and leadership, what it takes to rally morale, to care about each personality of each guy on the line. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat.

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            Culinary Arts (AS)
            • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
            • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
            • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Intensive Sommelier Training
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            Culinary Arts
            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            • Flexible Scheduling
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