Parmigiano, Partners and Proposals

It was a perfect first back-to-school day. Chef selected me to spend 30-minutes with my culinary school-girl crush, Parmigiano-Reggiano. It’s true; we’re in love, and I had him all to myself. He spoke softly to me between nibbles, while I chiseled buttery wedges from the brand new wheel for the entire class to use in our Risotto Milanese. I hope we meet again tomorrow — I hear he’ll be in the walk-in, waiting for me with his football jacket.

I’m paired up (thank goodness), with someone who (1) knows how to cook and (2) knows how to cook. Really, that’s all I ask. I’m always surprised, especially at the senior level, how many cooks still struggle with the basics. I know eventually they’ll get it — everyone tries their best and works really hard. But, if you’re paired with someone who isn’t matched to your own skill level, or close to it, it can definitely slow you down.

Today we fell into a comfortable chaos. Although we were in familiar surroundings, we were all a little loopy trying to get back into the swing of things, setting up our stations, getting used to our new partners, dealing with time management, cooking and keeping our stations clean. While I had lots of practice with my knife cuts this summer, my julienned carrots were a borderline disgrace today. My excuse? I was too busy making out with the Parmigiano-Reggiano to give my carrots the attention they deserved.

From this point forward though, I’m going to set up my station before class begins, instead of after the lecture. This way, I can take my time securing my cutting board, grabbing salt, pepper, oil, butter, and anything else I may need for the day. It will also give me a chance to grab equipment that might otherwise already be taken, like today: we ran out of medium sauce pans.

I talked with Chef for a bit after class, asking him if it would be possible to work with the University of Central Florida to design a direct-study Masters program for me. I’d really like to move forward and get my masters with a focus on food history and food communication, but I can’t travel to Boston, New York or Italy to do it (which is where all of the masters programs are currently being offered). Chef suggested I concentrate on journalism and do my thesis on something related to food history and communication. I’m thinking about it…

We also talked about the possibility of me teaching at the school. I was nervous to suggest it; I wasn’t sure how he’d react. He was encouraging though, and seemed excited I was interested. We talked about creating a food media course that would combine web, film, television, photography and food writing — perfect for me to teach! First though, I have to finish school.

I told Chef I’d be by in three semesters with my proposal.

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