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Now It’s Getting Serious: On to Culinary School

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years since I started David’s Table. Time really does fly when you’re having a blog. Prior to this, I always enjoyed cooking, but I had come to a point in my life were I felt a deep-seated need to master the art of cooking in much the way a professional chef does. At about this same time, and totally unrelated, one of my exchange students suggested I start a blog.  Because of my dual background in both computers and writing, the thought had occurred to me before, but what to write about?  That was the real question.  If I was going to start a blog, it had better concern a subject I truly loved and enjoyed lest I become bored and lose interest three months into it. The only thing I knew I loved that much was food.

That’s when I realized that one sure way to improve my cooking skills was to blog about it.  Nothing raises your conscious understanding of a subject like writing about it. Researching something, picking it apart, separating fact from fancy, and putting it back together in a clear and concise manner, heightens focus and makes an indelible impression on the mind.  Cooking also requires a lot of practical application. The kitchen becomes your workshop wherein you practice techniques, test theories, and gain knowledge.  A blog makes an excellent repository for that knowledge.

Thus was born this website, and I now understand the meaning of the term “a labor of love”.  It’s been a lot of work.  At times it has not been easy, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. It has provided structure in my quest to become a better home cook and kept me on-task.  I have a long way to go in that quest, but I am more committed than ever.

In these past two years, I’ve learned a great deal from cooking in the kitchen, reading books, taking classes, studying cooking shows and talking with cookbook authors, chefs and other food bloggers, but the time has come to raise things to another level.  The logical next step would be to attend culinary school and train to be a professional chef.  It seems like a no-brainer. After all, one of the top culinary schools of North America, L’Academie de Cuisine, sits right in my own back yard.  There’s just one small problem. I already have a day job, and I can’t afford to quit it. Besides, I have no interest in working in a restaurant.  My focus here is on home cooking.

Fortunately, L’Academie de Cuisine offers two 20-week programs – one in culinary techniques and the other in pastry techniques.  It’s about as close as you can get to their professional program without actually taking the professional program. These smaller programs employ the same technique-based training used with the professionals.  Classes meet once a week in the evenings and consist of classroom lectures and practical application in the schools large training kitchen. Students can then spend the rest of the week practicing the techniques they’ve learned in class at home.

So last Spring, I signed up for Culinary Techniques 101.  Classes began in late-July and will continue through early December.  After I’ve completed this program, I will begin the pastry program in Winter.

I can tell you that so far, I have already learned a great deal and each week I look forward to learning more.  It’s not my intention to chronicle my progress through the programs here. Others have already done that far better than I could. I simply hope that through these programs I can fill-in some of the holes in my education and gain a stronger foundation in the basics of the culinary arts.  I will, however, share with you from time to time some of the lessons I learn and address some of the basic fundamental principles. Hopefully all of this will make me a better food writer and make David’s Table more useful and interesting.

{ 8 comments… add one }

  • Michelle Yons September 1, 2011, 10:01 pm

    Congrats on pursuing your goal of becoming a better home chef! I’m in the midst of a true career change and it’s leading me to culinary school. I wrote a blog post about exploring one’s feelings on the path to career change. Others may find it useful:

    http://dietiscorrect.wordpress.com/2011/08/31/career-change-exploring-your-feelings/

    • David Ellis September 1, 2011, 10:48 pm

      Michelle, thanks for your post and the link. And good luck on your new career path. As the book title says, do what you love and the money will follow.

  • Jen @ Savory Simple September 8, 2011, 7:43 pm

    How exciting! That’s where I attended school! Who are your teachers?

    • David Ellis September 9, 2011, 9:49 am

      Hi Jen! Thanks for stopping by. I’m taking CT101 with Chef Brian, and I think he’s fantastic. I’ve learned so much, and he keeps the classes lively and fun. We also have a great group assisting him.

  • Jen @ Savory Simple September 11, 2011, 8:54 am

    Chef Brian was my favorite! Great guy, great teacher. I miss working with him.

  • Thomas September 19, 2011, 5:05 am

    That sounds great! I am very excited and keen to see what you will be up to the next months! I am prepared for several culinary delights that you will hopefully share with us. Keep on with your passion of cooking – especially now that you are an expert in that matter.

  • Jonathan Mathews September 30, 2011, 12:55 pm

    What does the 20-week boot camp cover? Is it mostly basic skills, like saute, braise, poach, etc?

    Congratulations on taking the step forward to learn cooking! Of course, I’m biased, but I have to say, it’ll be enriching. The site is very much a place I can go and stare at beautiful fresh produce for an hour…

  • John April 2, 2012, 1:28 pm

    Ha! Found you! Hope you’re doing great. I found a renewed interest in my blog too and it definely helped to write about what you’re doing in the kitchen! I’ve been trying to patch it back together from older stuff scattered on the Internet into one cohesive thread. What do you think of it?

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