I have been asked a number of times why I decided to attend culinary school. I have been around the culinary world for 20 years in one form or another. I have done recipe formulation, food journalism, lecturing on numerous subjects, catering, and run a food truck. I have a business background with plenty of experience in management. So why would I decided to go to school now? I am a knowledge sponge and I feel like I always have more to learn. I know I want a future in the culinary world and I wanted not only let the world know that I am serious chef but to prove to myself that I have what it takes to live my dream. I felt that if I was able to add CIA graduate to my resume I would be ready for that dream. I probably could have found a niche for myself without a degree but I felt that attending the CIA would not only give me the knowledge I am missing but help me start networking in the culinary world. I don’t think I could have found a better location to help me network because I have met an amazing array of chefs through the school and I will meet many more before I graduate.
Has my cooking improved?
This is something I didn’t expect but YES it definitely has made me a better chef. I was very rustic and I lacked a lot of refinement before. I was good chef before and had a lot of fans but those same people are now even more impressed because I have been able to improve my dishes significantly. I was a little offended the first time my husband told me that my cooking had improved but after some expletive laden complements I am proud that my dishes now elicit that kind of response from people. It was a mix of learned techniques and just having a heightened awareness of what I am doing in the kitchen.
Is Culinary School worth the cost?
I don’t know that all culinary schools are worth the cost. A number of my classmates had attended other schools before coming to CIA. They all stated that they felt those other programs were half hearted and did not provide the level of skill and knowledge they wanted. I also feel that in the culinary world collaborating with other chefs helps you grow and provides future opportunities. The CIA is the best school when it comes to meeting established chefs who want to share their knowledge with you and help you find your place in the culinary world. They are constantly bringing in chefs and hosting conferences so that the students get a chance to network and access to these chefs. I feel like just the knowledge you get from the school alone is worth the cost but when you add in the priceless experience you get with these chefs it makes the CIA a no brainer if you are really serious about being part of the culinary world.
What is my dream?
Unlike most of my classmates I don’t feel the urgency to open my own restaurant. I have run businesses long enough to know that I am in no big hurry to tie myself down to that kind of responsibility again. I want to freelance and develop a couple lines of products that I can sell locally. I also want to work on this blog and bring it back to the active community that it used to be. I would love to get a restaurant review job here in San Antonio. Deep down in the back of my mind I do have one restaurant that I would like to bring to life here in San Antonio. That restaurant would be similar in concept to a little place my family and I used to frequent in South Bend, Indiana. A little Irish Public House where celtic music is always playing, the tables are a mix of large shared and small tucked away and the beer and food is a mash of traditional Irish and San Antonio. The location would have to be small and cozy with a sense of history to it. I feel like it will come to be one day but it is as far back on the back burner as it can get. I have a name to build and niche to find for myself before I worry about the Pub of my dreams.
What am I doing now?
I am trying to network in the local chef community as much as I can while I finish my classes. I am scheduled to graduate in December 2017 and my plan is to have a small commercial kitchen where I can experiment with some product ideas I have and test them out at some local farmers markets. I want to play with my fresh kimchi and kombucha recipes and maybe even some sauces. When my food truck was active we had a lot of people who loved our homemade kimchi and fresh kimchi is something that most people don’t know anything about. I would like to play with those first and see where it takes me. The one thing that I have always been good at is finding a niche in the market and providing something else that no one else is offering. I hope I can use that ability in combination with my palate and skills to make some profitable products. I am going to use my time outside of class when I am not doing homework to scout local offerings and markets and try to find the underserved markets and products. I will be sharing some of that with you but I will be keeping the important parts to myself for now while I develop my business model.
Have questions? Want to suggest something? Leave me a comment!