Posted by: Part-Time Audiophile | July 17, 2009

L’Academie de Cuisine

I live in Frederick, MD, about 20 miles up the road from one of the nation’s best culinary schools, L’Academie de Cuisine. As you can tell from the name, it specializes in French cookery. To date, I’ve taken about 10 classes there, and just completed a 20-week part-time program, which is probably a stripped-down skills cohort at a full time program.

I’ve learned a lot, which isn’t all that surprising given the investment I’ve made so far. One of the things I’ve learned is that I don’t have the patience to start a line job at 40, tempting as it sometimes seems. Honestly, I don’t think I have the interest or ability to stay on my feet 10 hours a day, 15 days in a row. The fact that, starting off, those hours are going to be either unpaid or ludicrously underpaid is just adding insult to injury.

Another thing I’ve learned is that recipes suck. If the skills, techniques, tips and tricks that you pick up in a formal education (and this is where I think OTJ training is less helpful than going to school) do nothing else, they cast a brilliant light on all the things that recipes fail to mention. I have to assume that that is the fault of the editor and publisher, but no matter. I know better now.

One more interesting thing — there’s a ton more interesting things. Cooking is a skill, but there’s just tons of directions that that can take you, from playing with immersion circulators and liquid nitrogen to inventing/discovering unheard of flavor combos to becoming adept at any one of the literally hundreds of ethnic traditions. There’s a lot in there. That’s pretty cool.

So, having finished my 20 week curriculum, I was left wondering what to do next. There’s another class in the progression I’ll sign up for in the fall, a “201” class focusing on flavor I have to assume, but in the meantime … what to do?

Volunteer! I got a note from an instructor in my skills class saying they needed warm bodies to help fetch, fix, and chop for the next iteration of the skills class. So, I’m off. Another 20 weeks, but this time, I’m on the other side of the counter. Different instructor too, which should really help round out my basics.

Add that to my 201 class and who knows? Maybe I’ll finally lose enough weight to man up and go actually work for a living.

Or not.

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