December 29, 2010


When I tell somebody I'm going to culinary school, a popular question is: "What will you be specializing in?"

The program itself doesn't have formal specialties, except that you can take a less culinary and more hospitality/management track. I am definitely more culinary (or more arts?) so I won't be going for that. I plan on learning as much as I can about any/all cooking methods and styles and types so I have more knowledge for experimenting's sake.

I'm interested in a little of everything, as anyone who has seen me in my undergraduate career can attest to. There I went all over the liberal arts and chose a major based on how easily I could complete it (based on prior coursework), so I could continue dabbling for the rest of my time in school. And though I don't regret my decision in the least, at times it does feel like specialization is the key to an actual career, or respect, or any number of those adult-ly things. (I have a sneaking suspicion though, that life is too short to spend on adult-ly things. Maybe.)

If you had to push me to specify an interest, I would have to say fusion. Playfully fusing things that have previously been thought unfit for combination. I think I once declared somewhere that it's possible to have any three ingredients go together. It's all in the preparation (and texture too probably). Perhaps someone will prove me wrong on this. Like immediately. In the comments.

I'm also interested in sauces, that supposed afterthought to a dish that can be its saving grace. Because if you think about it, mediocre things of all kinds have been made palatable by a kickass sauce. (Which reminds me, that salisbury steak my team burned at Red Cross Disaster Kitchen Training would've very well been inedible had it not been for the gravy.)

So there you have it, fusion and sauce. I'll be fusing and saucing it up, no doubt.

December 23, 2010

cook, write, dance

Two years ago September I sat in an acres-wide concrete bunker of a hurricane shelter, thinking to myself. It was cabin fever of a sort, since the previous chaos of serving three thousand plus clients had been replaced by... nothing but space. They were going home, to whatever Louisiana parish they'd been bussed from, but we were still on deployment, and I had the overnight shift.

With my headphones plugged away to music, I thought about what moved me, besides the on-again off-again that was disaster relief. Writing, I knew, ever since I started my own website almost a decade ago. Dance, also, having dabbled in college. Cooking too, as I was discovering.

These things made me happy, and as hobbies they helped define me, giving me an identity separate and unsubsumed by the humanitarian world. I continued dabbling, on-again off-again as it were. But more and more I wondered why these things that moved me, that made me happy, that I was passionate about - why couldn't these be my full-time pursuits?

Money, always money. But thankfully I discovered City College of San Francisco and its Culinary Arts Program. Plugging away at a non-profit allowed me to save enough for tuition, so now I can finally go. And cook. And write about it. And take dance classes, since CCSF offers those, and many other subjects besides.

So I am blessed. And I can do nothing but make these next two years my best yet.