What I did during summer vacation

I remember having to write an annual essay in grammar school at the start of every school year: What I did during summer vacation. I don’t remember being graded on it. And I can’t imagine my essays were very exciting at the age of 6 or 7 — my brother and I went to camp. All summer. And did camp stuff. And stayed up late, ate junk, rode bikes, went to sleep overs, ate toasted marshmallows.

Now that I’m back in school, I was treated to a summer vacation again. And while it was only three weeks long, I feel like I took an amazing culinary journey and honed in on what I want to do with this crazy wonderful mess I’ve gotten myself into.

I took a one-week vacation on Hilton Head Island with my family. Tucked between the shorts, flip flops, and bathing suit, was a pie plate, baking ingredients, my knife roll, and rolling culinary kit. I spent $300 on groceries and baked pies the entire week, testing new recipes for the Crisco National Pie Championships next April. And I fell in love with Georgia, South Carolina and the Barrier Islands.

I recorded a video pie demo for Desserts Magazine, and started a photographic pie demo for Chef2Chef.net.

I applied for four food writing, marketing, and test kitchen jobs, and was rejected by the online robots every single time. So I hired a resume writer to help me organize my culinary experience on paper for the next time.

And I did something really crazy. Don’t laugh, but I drove to Atlanta and auditioned for The Next Food Network Star. I spent just shy of two months working on the 11-page application. I looked perfect on paper, but let my nerves get the best of me when I had to speak in front of the producer. I didn’t get the callback for the cooking demo and drove home disappointed in myself for letting that happen.

Something else happened though; something I didn’t realize until moments before pulling into my driveway after the 6 hour drive from Atlanta to Orlando. That application forced me to define my culinary point of view, allowing me to clearly see what I want to do with this culinary degree when I’m done.

The semester starts up again on Monday, and I won’t be finished with school until 2011. I can’t wait to be done. Not because I dislike being in school – I love school. But because I can’t wait to start this culinary career full time.

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            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
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