In just two weeks, I'll have under my belt my first semester of culinary school. I've never been more interested to learn. In the classroom and the kitchen, I'm like a ravenous animal, hungry for every crumb of knowledge I can swallow. Already, my mind has been exposed to so many new concepts: I've been introduced to French words and techniques like "tourne" and "concasse," each referring to a different classic knife cut. In response to my instructors, I've replaced the phrase "Yes, ma'am" and "Yes, sir" with a lively "Yes, chef!"
During my first few days getting ready for school, I felt as though I was dressing up in a costume of sorts, but routine has found me comfortably accustomed to my uniform. For every class I dress in full brigade: a white chef's hat and double-breasted jacket with checked black-and-white pants. I wear black non-slip shoes, matching socks and a white apron. No jewelry is allowed, and my fingernails must be kept short. Along with the experience I'm gaining comes a whole new world of networking opportunities and a serious appreciation for the creative and diverse field of culinary arts.
Going to culinary school once meant graduating and going to work in a kitchen, but today, with the boom of food media and entertainment, there are so many exciting paths one can take. Many of my classmates want to open their own bakeries and food trucks. My goal is to combine my education and background in marketing, public relations and writing with my culinary degree to ultimately host my own TV cooking show, highlighting Georgia farmers and local restauranteurs. I also would love to be a food editor for a leading magazine and to have a few cookbooks of my own. As a recipe often needs an extra pinch of salt, culinary school will provide me with just the right touch of credibility to help me achieve the outcome I'm going after.
Of the classes I'm taking this summer, Principles of Culinary Leadership is primarily lecture, while Safety and Sanitation has a little lecture combined with hands-on time in the kitchen. In culinary leadership, we explore hospitality management techniques used in differing work environments with an emphasis on human relations, building a staff and leading a team. I find the material to be applicable to so many fields, not just culinary arts. I'm learning all about effective communication in the workplace, training and recruiting principles and supervisory skills in a professional kitchen. For our class project, we have to create an employee handbook including all the components we've learned. It's been fun to allow my mind to wander while imagining my fictitious restaurant. There are days we visit the school garden to pull weeds and to study the fruit- and vegetable-producing plants, too.
My Safety and Sanitation class is one of those foundational classes students must take before they can move on to any of the other coursework. We're learning fundamental kitchen and dining room safety, sanitation, maintenance and operation procedures. At the end of this class, I'm looking forward to taking my ServSafe certification exam, which will cover a few topics like foodborne illnesses, time-temperature abuse and cross-contamination. As my knowledge has increased, I've become more aware of the way I do things in my home kitchen, too, such as thawing chicken or reheating and cooling leftovers. Now, my husband jokingly says there's no living with me.
Cleaning is a large part of culinary school, and I'd be telling a fib if I didn't say there's a great deal of scrubbing the deck, cleaning and sanitizing your work surfaces and knowing which work areas, cutting boards and utensils to use for which task. It was Albert Einstein who said, "The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know." He was spot on, and knowledge truly is power.
Next semester, I'll really get to roll up my sleeves and get my apron dirty. I'm taking Principles of Cooking in addition to Principles of Baking, and I can hardly wait. If you'd like to keep up with my culinary school journey, be sure to follow my food blog at SomeKindaGood.com or connect with Some Kinda Good on social media. Let's share cooking experiences and talk food. You may even find a recipe or two worth cooking.
Georgia native Rebekah Faulk Lingenfelser is the personality behind the blog SomeKindaGood.com. A self-described food enthusiast whose cooking adventures have led her twice to appear on national TV and to star locally as host of "Statesboro Cooks," she is currently taking her passion to the next level as a student at Savannah Technical College's Culinary Institute of Savannah. Search Facebook for Some Kinda Good or tweet her @SKGFoodBlog.