Culinary Study Habits

I have never missed a day of class and I have never been late – until today; the day of my baking and pastry final.

I had every intention of studying for my final exam, but found it difficult to concentrate last night as Desserts Magazine, Twitter and Facebook romanced me until well after midnight.

I was no different in college (almost 20 years ago) - always a procrastinator. After an entire semester of paying attention, taking notes and applying what I learned, I found that I either knew it, or I didn't. And no amount of studying the night before was going to help me.

A review, however, was always in order. And I convinced myself last night that I knew enough to save the review until this morning.

Fast forward to this morning's best-laid plans...

I created my review sheets after breakfast - right on track – and left early for class so I wouldn't have to rush and could review my notes before the exam. And there it was, as I merged onto the highway: a stationary line of red tail lights, pulsing like levels on a boom box. Murphy's Law, reporting for Sirius Radio weather and traffic, described a horrific accident, perfectly positioned between me and my exit, with all lanes blocked.

I was trapped on I-4, somewhere between Disney and Universal Studios. And when you're trapped on I-4 in Orlando, somewhere between Disney and Universal, you're trapped with tourists who have no idea where they're going. Better yet, you're also trapped with permanent residents who like to pass the time by contemplating ways to inflict unthinkable acts of road rage on the tourists who have no idea where they're going.

There was no question. My exit, only a mile away, was shut down, blocked, and I was going to be late for my final exam.

I went through the emotions - panic, anger, frustration. I even contemplated ways to inflict road rage on the tourists, with evil laughter and wringing hands. After 30 minutes of emotional struggle, I found the trail of pulsing red lights to be soothing and delightful, like a straight jacket. I gave in and tried to find order and pattern in the random flashes of red to pass the time. Tried.

I mustered up some adult responsibility and called my advisor to let her know I was going to be late (take that Murphy), and focused on trying get to class as quickly and safely as possible - there were 4 other accidents reported in the area.

My normal 15-minute ride had hit the 50-minute mark when I eventually came to an exit, and finally the campus. And because I had left so early, was able to burst into class only ten minutes late. I apologized, face flushed, out of breath. Chef was in his whites, slouched, casual, no doubt a vacation mindset.

"Relax," he said. “Catch your breath. I've still got kids in here from the one o'clock class taking the exam."

I missed my review time, and was desperately trying to channel my notes via any ounce of a photographic memory I like to think I have, but really don't. This was not only my final exam, but without being able to review, it was a true test of what I learned and retained over the summer.

It took me 10 minutes to calm down and focus, 10 minutes to take the exam, and three minutes to noodle over questions I suspected were wrong before giving up. I either knew it or I didn’t, and no amount of time spent staring at the page was going to help me.

Chef graded our exams as we handed them in. I got a 92; an A. I was relieved, happy, proud. Everything I had studied throughout the semester was really in there - right there in my head, on the tip of my tongue; quick breads, pie dough, custards, pate a choux, cakes, laminated doughs. I knew it. I know it.

Like Chef, I'll be on vacation next week. I plan on bringing all of my professional cooking books with me, including the book we’ll be using next semester, and am excited to read them while slouched in a chair by the hotel pool.

And when I return from vacation, I'll spend the next three months studying the affects of heat on proteins like chicken, eggs and fish, how to make emulsions, bases, broths and sauces.

Each week, for the next three months, I’ll study something new, but you'll never catch me studying the night before the final exam.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            • Transferable Credits
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            • 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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            • Received the 2015 and 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
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            • 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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            • Ranked among the Best Colleges in the South in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Ranked the 13th  Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • A private institution founded in 1977 with a current total undergraduate enrollment of over 15,00.
            • Its student-faculty ratio is 12:1, and 89.3% of classes have fewer than 20 students.
            • Has students attend one class at a time to ensure easy access to faculty and a more hands-on education.
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            Auguste Escoffier Schools of Culinary Arts , Online (campus option available)
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
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            • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
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            Lackawanna College is the premier, private, accredited two-year college serving the people of northeastern Pennsylvania. With a focus on keeping higher education affordable and accessible to our immediate community, Lackawanna draws 80 percent of its student population right from our own region.

            With a main campus situated in downtown Scranton, Lackawanna’s expanding footprint also includes satellite centers in Hawley, Hazleton, New Milford, and Towanda.