dealing with disgust in the kitchen

As a culinary instructor, not a week goes by when I don’t witness one or another of my students facing certain tasks in the kitchen that they have never before attempted. Depending on my particular frame of mind that day, these episodes are either completely hilarious, or completely maddening. The “certain tasks” I’m referring to are those goopy, raw, moist, squishy, and/or smelly ones that manage to overwhelm the novice cook with feelings of fear, revulsion, and disgust.

Continuing education for the professional chef:

I’m currently reading, for the second time, Michael Pollan’s lifestyle-changing book The Omnivore’s Dilemma (www.michaelpollan.com), in which the author spends several pages discussing the idea of human disgust reflex in relation to how far most of us are from the actual source of our food. In the chapter titled Hunting: The Meat, Pollan hunts and kills a wild pig, and then assists as his hunting partner proceeds to disembowel (dress) the animal. As the internal organs flop to the ground with a wet thud and the odor of partially digested pig food wafts up into his nostrils, the author is so overcome with a wave of nausea and disgust that he is forced to walk away and regain his composure, lest he lose his lunch. Even though he knows that the meat of the pig is a delicious treat he’s eaten many times before, being so close to the post mortem in progress is still a difficult thing to be comfortable with. The case in point here is that as we move forward as a society that embraces commercial agriculture and the supermarket method of gathering our food, we are also moving father and farther away from any real connectedness to the animals and plants that we consume on a daily basis.

The job of a chef-educator:

After eight years of teaching people how to cook at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Chicago (Chefs.edu/Chicago), it no longer surprises me when I come across a student who has never before cut up a whole chicken into pieces, or one who has never even seen an oyster, let alone shucked and eaten one while it is still vibrant and quivering. As their culinary ambassador, I feel that it is my job to help them embrace and reconnect with the whole, unprocessed ingredients they regularly eat. Standing up in front of the class demonstrating how these things are done, as I observe my students’ faces, it is almost immediately apparent who among the group has a problem with the thought of actually touching these ingredients with their bare hands. I always make a mental note to spend extra time with these individuals…for their own good, but also for my own amusement. On oyster day, it is these individuals that I insist try to eat a raw oyster. If they don’t like it, that’s fine, but at least they tried it.

Cooking in the professional kitchen:

As a professional chef, it’s easy to forget how difficult these types of things are to do the first time…or the first few times. We do them all the time, so the novelty has worn off…I can’t tell you how many thousands of chickens I’ve cut up, or scores of oysters I’ve shucked (and eaten!), or how many kilos of fish entrails I’ve yanked. But the truth of the matter is that many people cannot easily overcome the natural human reaction to dealing with these visceral things: disgust. And once you have truly experienced the feeling of disgust in relation to a certain food item, it is extremely difficult to get back to a place where you might actually eat that thing again.

Obviously, the disgust reflex is a necessary and helpful evolutionary tool that has protected many of us and our ancestors over the years. Usually the things that people feel the most disgusted with are those items that would make you very ill, or possibly kill you were you to ingest them. When you work in a professional kitchen though, any reactions to the disgust you feel for an ingredient that the chef loves should be held in check. No chef wants to hear that one of their cooks is grossed out by something they’re working with. Chefs are typically passionate about a lot of ingredients that other people might find strange, and they like to have cooks working for them that feel the same way.

Featured Culinary Schools

Searching Searching ...

Matching School Ads
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.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
Le Cordon Bleu Schools of North America , Online (campus option available)
  • Its first location, in Paris, officially opened its doors as a culinary school in 1895.
  • Teaches students by having them spend significant time in the kitchen practicing precision techniques.
  • Provide hands-on training from instructors who are certified, master chefs.
  • Offer flexible schedules and online programs.
  • Has 30 schools worldwide, spanning 5 continents, including 17 campuses in the U.S.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
1 Program(s) Found
  • Provides students the opportunity to train at home in their spare time to get their high school diploma, train for a new career, or enhance current skills.
  • Offers programs in psychology/social work, business management, medical billing, criminal justice, and more.
  • Member of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE), and the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).
  • Features a fully flexible schedule with no classes to attend, leaving the study pace up to the student.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
3 Program(s) Found
  • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
  • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
  • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
  • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Founded in Southern California in 1998 by dog training expert Steven Appelbaum.
  • The largest independent dog training company in the United States.
  • Offers 11-stage programs that feature an in-home study component along with a hands-on training module.
  • A member of the MyCAA Financial Assistance program, which offers eligible military spouses up to $4,000 of tuition assistance that can be used towards any of their courses.
  • Helps graduates find employment and coaches those who are looking to start their own business.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Has students attend one four-week class at a time and take their final exam before moving on to their next class.
  • Offers 24/7 online tech support, with a typical response time of 4 hours or less.
  • Has online help centers that offer assistance with writing, statistics, medical assisting, and more.
  • Provides job placement assistance to all its students and alumni.
  • Researches trends for growing fields to tailor a more effective curriculum.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Ranked among the Best National Universities in 2014 & 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Ranked #7 Best College for Veterans in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Has over 240,000 alumni on record, including Joseph Biden, Stephen Crane, Dick Clark, and Joyce Carol Oates.
  • Offers study abroad programs in several countries all over the world.
  • Has achieved accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
  • Its main campus is located in Syracuse, New York, with extended campuses in a number of major metro cities including Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York City, and more.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Students can complete an entry-level technician program in about a year, and manufacturer training and graduate in as little as 18 months.
  • Provides technical education training programs for automotive, diesel, collision repair, motorcycle, and marine technicians.
  • Partners with many well-known manufacturers, including General Motors, Porsche Cars North America Inc., and BMW of North America LLC.
  • Offers internships to students and alumni for first-hand experience.
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
  • Ranked 25th among the Best National Universities in 2015 by U.S. News & World Report.
  • One of the world’s leading private research universities.
  • Its student-faculty ratio is 9:1, and 56.8% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
  • Has an average freshman retention rate, an indicator of student satisfaction, of 96.8 percent.
  • Dedicated to a strong tradition of integrating liberal and professional education since 1880.
  • Its faculty includes National Academy members, Nobel Laureates, MacArthur Fellows, and more.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Ranked #11 in the 2015 Best Graduate Schools in Social Work by U.S. News & World Report.
  • Offers more specialization opportunities than any other social work program, with 10 concentrations and sub-concentrations and 8 dual-degree programs.
  • The first elite researching university to offer a Master of Social Work degree online.
  • Has 4,000 field internship opportunities that give students real-world experience.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
  • Dedicated to providing a hands-on, career-focused education since 1953.
  • Offers classes online, as well as at 14 campuses across California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois and Virginia.
  • Develops curriculum with input from employers, subject matter experts.
  • Has small class sizes to promote one-on-one, student-teacher interaction.
  • Makes no-cost tutoring available in every subject to every enrolled student.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Designated a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Recognized as a 2015 STEM Jobs Approved College.
  • Awarded over $43,000 in scholarships to active duty military personnel.
  • Graduates may return and retake classes and receive tutoring or refreshers, free of charge.
  • Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
Show more [+]
  • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
  • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
  • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
  • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
  • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Offers several scholarship opportunities for students who qualify.
  • Laptop computers are issued to each student at the beginning of their program.
  • Provides programs in health care, business, information technology, and graphic arts.
  • Respiratory Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC).
  • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid