Why I Went To Culinary School

August 3, 2010

Happy first-day-of-posting-everyday-for-a-month! This is a paper I had to write for one of my summer courses.

I was going to take the simple road and pin point the Food Network or the Travel Channel as the reason why I am standing here today. However, my “affair” with food began many years before I had ever heard of Alton Brown or Anthony Bourdain.
Growing up, my mom hated few things more than spending her day in the kitchen, laboring over a hot stove. Her ideal meal came out of a can, box, or freezer, and all but threw itself together. Besides her general disdain for the kitchen, she also blamed all weight gain on any and all food that tasted good, whether or not it was healthy. So from the start, my understanding of food was confused. I saw it as an enemy to skinny jeans and free time.
Throughout my teen years, I held a love-hate relationship with food, fighting a common battle with self-image and anorexia. Like my mom had done, I found food to be the culprit. Once I left home and was out on my own, the majority of teen angst behind me, I began to gain perspective and educate myself on our modern food system.
Enter the Food Network. I would be lying if I said this didn’t have any influence on why I am here today. When I first moved back to Iowa, I spent the majority of my days hanging out with a good friend of mine who loved all things food. She was married with two children, so it seemed she was always cooking something or planning thier next meal…and when neither of those two things were happening, we were sitting on her couch watching Jamie Oliver, Giada, or Iron Chef.
One very late night, as I was floundering and bemoaning the fact that I didn’t know what I should do with my life, she asked me what I wanted to do—If I could choose absolutely anything, what would it be? Caught off guard, and without a second thought, I gestured toward the T.V. where some chef was whipping up a quick dish. “I think I want to make good food,” I said.
Nothing happened immediately. In fact, I put the entire conversation out of my mind for a few years. My response to her question had actually been tongue-and-cheek; I didn’t believe it was actually a viable option. However, unbeknownst to myself, I had started down a path from which there was no return.
A couple years and jobs later, there was an evening where I was working on setting up an online blog. In doing so, I stumbled across the mother load of food blogs. I couldn’t believe my luck, with one click of my track pad, I had fallen onto several dozen quality blogs. One in particular was a gold mine for me. Every recipe I made from this blog turned out incredibly well. I went from eating boxed cereal yogurt, and frozen Asian meals, to cooking entire meals from scratch. I became lost in grocery stores discovering new and unfamiliar ingredients. I scoured the internet and my many blogs, wading through the deep waters of French terminology and classic cuisine.
As I began cooking for myself, I started learning about processed foods and the detriment they have been to western culture. I was finding the more I prepared my own foods from fresh ingredients, the healthier I felt. Food, which had been my enemy growing up, was becoming a resource and an ally.
This realization that whole and healthy foods were the antidote to the damage that processed foods had caused was the revelation that pushed me to actually pursue a degree in culinary arts.


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