“School’s out” and graduation has passed.
If you were like me, the future may seem
daunting. The only restaurant experience I
had was at a family restaurant where most
of the food was cooked in a fryer or on a
griddle. The food was simple to prepare
with no complicated recipes or specials. All
we had to do was remember to rotate the
fresh stuff with older ingredients (FIFO:
first in, first out) and to be fast on our feet
during rush hours.
21ST CENTURY GRADUATES MUST BE:
When I was in cooking school, I listened
to my classmates and envied all the
experience they had at restaurants, big
resorts and family establishments. I was
worried, because at my age, I did not have
similar experiences. I completed active
duty in the U.S. Navy two years before I
started in the cooking industry. When I did
cook, it was in a sheltered environment.
I had never worked for a “real chef,” and
as a nontraditional student entering The
Culinary Institute of America (CIA), Hyde
Park, N. Y., my fears were that I would never
be able to compete with my classmates. The
only confidence I had was that I had a good
pair of hands, a world of great training while
serving my country, and that I could work
quickly and be organized. While at school,
I learned to study hard, and I worked part
time to gain experience. Upon graduation, I
let fate take its path, and the rest is history.
able to multitask
LEt thE rEAL education begin
“School’s out” causes happiness, yet
apprehension for some, and excitement for
others. You’re on your own now, with no
more homework or projects. You must take
complete responsibility for yourself and your
expenses, and once you have worked for a
while, you may even get your first “newer”
car. School is out for good—or so you think.
A recent survey was given to industry
professionals and local business people
asking what they wanted to see in
graduating students. Most of their needs are
focused around work and personal ethics,
not just skills.
At my college graduation, the last thing
one of my chef-instructors said to me
was, “Congratulations, Will, now your real
education is going to start.” Keep reading,
keep trying new things, never be satisfied
with what you are doing, always try to
improve by being more efficient, more
articulate, a better team player, and never
sacrifice quality of ingredients or freshness.
I have shared these thoughts with you
because I have experienced all the
concerns, fears and anticipations that come
with the end of school years and graduation.
Scared or not, this is a great time in your
life. Graduates, savor every second of your
new experience in the working world and
your choice of the hospitality and culinary
profession. Be brave, adventuresome,
honest and humble with others who
have not had your advantage of a formal
education. Share without patronizing,
be respectful of your co-workers and be
patient with yourself. You are not going to
learn the business overnight.
On the following pages we look at students
and recent grads just like you to see what
they have cooking this summer.