Early Exposure

If you've read any of my previous posts on this site, you probably already know that I'm an instructor in the culinary department at Le Cordon Bleu in Chicago. I love food. I love cooking food. I love eating food. That wasn't always the case, though. As a child, I had what could be called limited exposure to the astounding diversity of cuisines available in this great city. For my family, going out for Chinese was about as daring as it got. For that reason, I try hard to instill a sense of cultural and cuisine related adventure and curiosity in my students; the more they taste and experience, the more knowledgeable and appreciative they'll be, and the better their cooking will become. For that reason, I created and continue to mentor a student club at the school called the LCB Ethnic Lunch Club. Once a month or so, I take a group of students to one of Chicago's authentic ethnic restaurants to expose them to a new cuisine and food culture. It's always a lot of fun, and usually very delicious.

My wife and I try to take a similar approach to how we raise and feed our children. Our five year old daughter, Delilah, is a great eater, already a veteran of such delicacies as caviar, foie gras, gravlax, sushi, curries, and smoky barbecue. Our 18 month old son, Jake, is a work in progress, and tends to drift in and out of various likes and dislikes according to how much pain the teething process is causing him that day. Today was apparently a good, pain free day for Jake; at least I think it was judging from the success of the cuisine exposure adventure I subjected him to.

After dropping his sister off at school, Jake and I saddled up and headed to a Mexican market on the north side of town called Supermercado Morelia. I had some inside info from a past student that I would be able to find fresh blue corn masa there, so the hunt was on. Morelia is pretty much a quaint little Mexican market not unlike the hundreds of others scattered around Chicago, but they did have a few cool things you might not see elsewhere. First of all, they did have blue corn masa, vacuum packed and refrigerated. Grabbed a bag of that. They also had jars of beautifully chunky, inky huitlacoche; a mushroom like fungus that grows from the kernels on an ear of corn and goes by the alternate names of corn truffle or corn smut, depending on who you ask. Took a jar of that. Then Jake and I noticed their hot, prepared food area, and ended up grabbing a pound each of amazingly tender and porky carnitas (big chunks of pork gently deep fried in lard until it's almost ready to fall apart) and chicharones (crispy fried pig skin) simmered in a spicy tomato salsa. A bunch of cilantro, a couple limes, and a wedge of good Mexican melting cheese rounded out our cart, and it was time to get back to the homestead to make lunch.

Needless to say, the blue corn masa quesadillas filled with huitlacoche and topped with carnitas, chicharones en salsa roja, cilantro, and lime were incredibly delicious. Whether or not Jake was able to appreciate the authentic flavors of one of the world's greatest cuisines, who knows. But he did sit relatively still for at least ten minutes, asking for "Mo' pees" (more, please) after each and every bite, and that's pretty good for a kid his age.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • 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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            • 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.
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            • Students get real-world experience through the required externship at the end of the program.
            • Curriculum includes laboratory sessions, academic preparation and hands-on experience.
            • Program objectives are to provide students with skills needed for cooking wholesome, attractive, food preparations and to assist graduates in obtaining positions in the food service industry.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
            • Has campuses in Melbourne, Sarasota, and Tallahassee, Florida
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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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            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.

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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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            3 Program(s) Found
            • 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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