Cooking always seemed like an individual sport to me. I could enter a kitchen and escape from everything.

Culinary school changed all that from the start.

In the second to last level French Culinary Institute students begin working in the school's restaurant. We rotate through the various stations and teamwork becomes a bigger part of the picture than ever before.

My class of 22 students is on the larger side. Most of our groups are made up of four students. We all get along pretty well considering there's pressure from our chefs to deliver on the spot.

On a recent evening from L'Ecole, my willingness to be a team player was tested: My group worked the saucier station, and we cooked up hanger steaks and chicken dishes. Our class doesn't start until 5:45 p.m., but I showed up nearly an hour early to start our prep work because I wanted everything to go smoothly. So when I felt like my partner wasn't plating a dish as nicely as I wanted, I was simmering below. I wanted all the hard work to pay off. I didn't want to call him out on it, though, but at the same time, someone has to step up. So I'm still not sure the best way to deal with this. Any advice out there?