This might be one of the most honest posts I’ve ever written and also the most difficult. Many people ask me what culinary school was like and I always hesitate because I hate sounding negative. I don’t want to burst any bubbles. Food is IN right now and culinary school sounds mysterious and exciting. I’m living the dream, right?  Before you envy me, I have some opinions about school that I think you should know. I’m going to tell it to you straight. If you currently work in the food industry, this post might be offensive and for that I’m sorry. Everyone has a perspective and this is mine.

I had great hesitations while writing this. What will my chefs think? Will I sound like I’m whining? All of my frustrations, resentments, and fears rose to the surface. But then again, so did my feelings of pride and accomplishment. Culinary school was the most brutal experience of my life but I gained so much. Not only did I learn to create beautiful food but I gained confidence. To gain that confidence I had to be ripped from my comfort zone and torn to shreds, only to be built up again. Not unlike boot camp.

 

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Blueberry Buttermilk Cookies ~ Savory Simple

If Julia Child were alive today she’d be 100 years old. It’s quite weird to think that someone I never met had such a dramatic impact on my life. Five years ago I was in a very different place. I was struggling to find meaning in my life and joy in my career. I spent most of my 20s agonizing over my job. I earned a good living but was desperate for more. I wasn’t one of those kids who always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. I was an English major, not because I wanted to be a professor but because I loved reading and writing. After receiving my bachelors degree I moved on to IT training because it seemed like a good way to make a living. But once the memories of student life were fading and I had settled into my profession, I was unhappy. I became obsessed with the notion that I’d never truly be happy until I was passionate about my work. But nothing fit the bill. Over the next several years I went back to school multiple times and always quit soon after I realized I was headed in the wrong direction yet again. I frustrated loved ones (and myself) with my indecisiveness. But I knew there was something out there, that ONE THING that would bring me satisfaction. When I read Julia Child’s My Life in France, everything changed. Not overnight. It was a gradual, slow change. [Read more...]

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Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Galette ~ Savory Simple

We had many requirements at culinary school, one of which was to assist 3 recreational cooking classes.  I loved doing this and volunteered often.  One particular evening I assisted a pastry class where the students were making an assortment of tarts.  The chef described a galette as a “rustic tart” and then smirked, stating:

“I love the word ‘rustic’.  It means it doesn’t have to be pretty.”

She had a point.  When using tart molds, I often spend quite a bit of time making sure the dough is perfectly formed.  Patience and practice yields perfection.  Galettes are much easier, and their imperfections are what make them beautiful, in my opinion.  They’re great for beginners and experts alike.

This butternut squash and goat cheese galette has a wonderful balance of flavors and is perfect for fall entertaining.  The apple enhances the sweetness of the butternut squash and the pecans offer a nice crunch.  The shallots and goat cheese are savory and rich.  You can get 6-8 appetizer servings, depending on how big you want your slices.

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Tomorrow I graduate from culinary school!  What a year it has been.  I knew it would be difficult and it certainly was.  But I learned a lot about myself and am happier for it.  I’m moving forward on a career path that excites me.   This is the beginning!

My dear friend and fellow blogger S.j. over at Cooking School Confidential and Forme of Cury wrote a great blog entry a few months ago called Should I go to culinary school from someone who has been. It’s a good if you’re considering attending school, especially as a second career.  I share most of her opinions and believe we had a very similar experience.  But the bottom line is I would do it all over again.

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Happy Holidays!  Three weeks and counting until graduation!

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