I want to welcome everyone to my world. A world in which extra effort and hard long shifts are rewarded with a feeling of self satisfaction, a smile on a patrons face, or a pat on the back from your executive chef. This is the world of a culinary student. Being a culinary student has its benefits, and downsides. For example, every day you are force fed over abundant amounts of information over and over, and expected to know it like the back of your hand. There are days of grueling labor in a hot kitchen, and dealing with an angry chef breathing down your neck who slings insults at you like Steven Strasburg fastballs. All this adds to the wear and tear on body and mind. The reward for all this madness is seeing a smile on that same chef’s face after class, when he finally tells you that you’ve done a good job. I have bled, sweat, and charred my own flesh for that small acknowledgement. I am a student at the Culinary Institute of America, and taught by some of the best chefs in the world. Aside from the CIA, there are thousands of schools around the world, offering opportunities to anyone willing to survive what I like to call “culinary boot camp” in order to earn the title of chef.Being a chef isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s not the fantasy world of cooking that the Food Network depicts, where entertainers cook meals in minutes and make it look easy as pie. It's for those willing to come together for a purpose, endure physical harm, strenuous conditions, and are willing to work at laying a foundation that will cement a future. At school, I quickly came to understand that the status quo wouldn’t cut it. I drove myself to be better. Culinary school has an immense dropout rate. I could go on for days about the people who didn’t push themselves, and just thought that average would get them by. I have had chefs tell me flat out at the beginning of classes that above average effort would get me a C. As pointless as this may seems, there is a silver lining. Because classes are so difficult, and your best won’t just do, you must adapt. In doing this you will become a better, more agile, more educated chef.In my world, the best won’t do, you just have to be better.