Last year at this time I was just beginning my culinary school adventures. And I was nervous. I’d taken some scary risks and made tremendous changes to embark on the road to culinary school. It was a life renovation, but instead of reupholstering a chair and replacing Formica countertops, I was turning my back on my bachelor’s degree for the sake of a cake and trading in law school for the perfect macaroon. The choice was a big and weighty one, so, when the first day of class arrived, I found myself filled with quiet self-doubt. What if I’ve found what I truly love to do and I end up being a complete incompetent? What if I don’t have what it takes? Maybe I’d been bred for books and offices, and the decision to go to culinary school was akin to Michael Jordon joining the Birmingham Barons. Unnatural. Weird. An awkward fit.
Around the same time I was issued my first chef coats and checked pants. I’d never worn whites or checks before and when I put them on, neckerchief tied and hair pulled back in my toque, it felt more like a Halloween costume than a class uniform. Unnatural. Weird. An awkward fit. Like a sort-of Baking Fun Barbie, the only testaments to my ability were a fun new outfit, a handy-dandy tool-kit of accessories and a matching pair of shoes. Tomorrow, I could just as well put on a scrubs and a stethoscope and call myself Doctor.
A year later, everything has changed. After successfully completing the first year of classes, finishing my externship and proving to myself that I am more than just the outfit with a funny hat, I’m back at school for Round 2. “Culinary School: The Sequel,” begins with a six-week block of classroom work and then back into the kitchens! Tuesday, I start Intro to Management, Menu Development, Restaurant Law, Nutrition and Controlling Cost and Food Purchasing. And guess what? This time I’m not terrified. Big risks do sometimes transform themselves into extraordinary gains. This time, I am more excited than nervous and chef coat feels less like its cloaking an imposter and more like a Bull’s Jersey. In fact, I hardly wait to get back in the game.