The Heat is On

Today is the day: My classmates will take our level six final exam at the French Culinary Institute.

The task? We draw a number from a hat that determines the dishes we'll cook under deadline. Then a panel of judges critique us in front of our classmates. We'll either cook a fish and pastry pairing or a meat and appetizer.

If you pass, you receive a diploma declaring you're a chef.

I spent yesterday being a nervous wreck, though. I inhaled three sizable cupcakes and ordered Chinese take out (something I've never done in New York) at 12:30 a.m. as I was studying my recipes. Last night I only got about five hours of sleep. Maybe that's why I'm calmer this morning.

I know I can cook the dishes. The only thing I'm worried about is doing everything on time and making sure it's presented well. I figure it's better to be calm and confident instead of running around like a chicken with its head cut off.

Breath, stay calm and just cook — that's what I keep telling myself over and over.

In the meantime, my uniform is cleaned and ironed. My knives are sharpened. I've gone through recipes in my head countless times.

The only thing between me and diploma are two dishes. I'm hoping I get the branzino and bread pudding pairing. But whatever it turns out to be, I think the biggest lesson culinary school has taught me is to be confident in my cooking. I'm sure that will be the key to passing.

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            Culinary Arts (AS)
            • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
            • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
            • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Intensive Sommelier Training
            • 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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            Culinary Arts
            • 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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            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            Culinary Arts Specialist
            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits