Pressure Cooking

Okay, I admit it: I can be a food a snob.

Even before I enrolled at the French Culinary Institute, I could be fussy about the quality of ingredients I'd use to whip up a steak salad or pasta and Bolognese for dinner. Is the meat from an organic farmer? How fresh are the greens? Which brand of pasta did my partner purchase? All this has gotten even more severe since culinary school.

Don't get me wrong, there are times I still crave Dorito chips, fast food fries or Kraft mac-and-cheese. But when more often than not, cooking for myself, friends or family has changed for good.

Friends and family joke that I'm too picky (to their benefit). But it puts pressure on me - even more these days since I'm going to culinary school. Everyone expects to be wowed and surprised. The pressure! I think other culinary students can relate.

So this weekend I'm throwing a birthday for a three-year-old boy. There will be adults (a few them serious foodies), kids under age 10 and a few of my friends and family. For the foodies, I'm feeling the pressure to plan an elaborate menu to show off what I've learned in seven months of school so far. For the kids, I want something tasty but simple that they'll actually eat.

What to do? I think I'll try to keep it simple but make sure everything I use to prepare the meal is of good quality. Maybe it does pay to be a snob sometimes.

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