Inspired by Fear

I love reading about food. Cookbooks, magazines, newspaper articles, essays, musings, etc. It's all good. Aside from cooking and eating, reading about food and cooking is probably my favorite thing to do. When I first became interested in the culture of food and cooking, I remember often feeling intimidated when reading recipes and articles about this or that food or culinary tradition. The feeling of intimidation arose from my lack of knowledge, and over the years I've worked hard to cram my brain full of as much food and cooking-related information as possible. For the most part these days, reading about food, while still one of my favorite things to do, is no longer intimidating...it mostly tends to make me hungry, and inspires me to cook. There is, however, one part of a particular book that still manages to produce feelings of anxiety deep within the core of my culinary consciousness. The book I'm referring to is The Soul of a Chef, by Michael Ruhlman, and the particular part of his book that continues to frighten me details the stress, drama, heartbreak, and occasional triumph surrounding the American Culinary Federation's Certified Master Chef exam.

As a chef instructor at a Le Cordon Bleu culinary school, I make sure to recommend this book as important reading material to each and every one of my students. In part one, Ruhlman focuses on a chef named Brian Polcyn as he struggles through the grueling ten day exam to be officially certified as a master chef by the ACF, and the feelings of terror and anxiety that I feel reading it now are no less intense than when I read it the first time almost a decade ago. Most of the applicants taking this exam are top-notch chefs, and the vast majority don't pass; it's that hard. In case you have not yet read it, I won't say anything else in regards to the outcome of Chef Polcyn's attempt at the CMC title.

Basically, the lesson to be learned from this is that no matter how much we read, or how much we practice proper technique, there is always room for improvement, always room to know more, or to be able to do something a little bit better than the last time we did it. The culture of professional cooking is one that involves a sincere passion for lifelong learning, and an openness to the idea that we are never perfect in what we do; attaining perfection is truly impossible, but striving for it is what makes each of us the best we can be at whatever we do.

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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
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            5 Program(s) Found
            • 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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            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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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            2 Program(s) Found
            • 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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            Sullivan University is a private institution of higher learning dedicated to providing educational enrichment opportunities for the intellectual, social and professional development of its students.

            2 Program(s) Found
            L'Ecole Culinaire , Kansas City
            • Offers educational opportunities for the aspiring, career-minded chef.
            • Students are trained by professional chefs and spend the majority of their final term working in the campus restaurant to learn all phases of the culinary industry.
            • St. Louis campus offers new Food Truck Entrepreneurship courses.
            • Has a student-run food truck that tours around St. Louis.
            • All campuses have a public restaurant where food is prepared and served by students.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            • Transferable Credits
            2 Program(s) Found
            • Has been training students in the culinary arts since 1946.
            • Teaches hands-on culinary training in French, Asian, Mediterranean, Latin and American cooking, along with professional baking and pastry techniques.
            • Helps students gain professional skills in culinary management.
            • Offers an Italian Culinary Arts program where students get to externship in Italy.
            • Its instructors are respected chefs who put their dedication and life experiences into their instruction.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
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