Hello again to all you foodies! Chef Mike here with my second installment. I just rolled in to school to teach my class this evening, and I thought I could use these few extra minutes to tackle the job of introducing myself. Last week I wrote a post that examined the human disgust reflex and how chef instructors often feel responsible for helping their students overcome this feeling when encountering new (and possibly scary) ingredients in the kitchen/classroom. I became so involved blabbing about my profession and my students that I neglected to mention anything about my past or how I spend most of my daytime hours.
I’m fortunate enough to have my days free to take care of my two young kids (yet another benefit of many jobs in the foodservice industry). My beautiful daughter, Delilah, who turns five in May, attends a pre-K program in the afternoons. My energetic son, Jacob, is thirteen months, and is just on the verge of walking. He's really loud...and really cute. He gives very wet kisses. My wonderwoman wife is also a culinary instructor at a great place geared towards home cooks called The Chopping Block. She teaches during the day, and also designs and writes the curriculum and recipes for all of the classes there. We live close to Lake Michigan, north of Chicago, and my wife and I both commute into the city to teach.
Prior to my life as a culinary instructor, I attended The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a BA; English major, History minor...not exactly the fast track to chefdom. When I returned home to Chicago, I began working as a cook and a caterer, and then enrolled in culinary school. With culinary school under my belt I began cooking on the line in a small restaurant, and eventually worked my way up to running the kitchen there. We cooked fine dining menus served in a casual, neighborhood setting. It was an intense and often humbling learning experience. In addition to working as a personal chef cooking dinner parties in clients' home kitchens, I've also worked on the fringes of the industry as a butcher and a fishmonger.
So, like many others working in this industry for a number of years, I've done a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. I've been an instructor here at the Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Chicago for almost eight years now, and I enjoy doing this more than all of the other jobs I've had combined. As if teaching isn't rewarding enough, I also get to eat all of the great things my students and colleagues whip up every day!