Friday, December 14th marked our official graduation day from culinary school! I would by lying if I didn’t say that there were definitely days among school, as well as during my externship, where I wondered if this day would ever come. But for the most part, this past year has flown by!
Whether from nerves or excitement, I woke up early and got myself ready for the big day. Reaching into the top of my closet, I pulled down my saved-for-graduation-day chef’s jacket, still tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, and saved from my very first day of school.
Putting on the stiff, starchy, and perfectly white jacket brought me back to last year, when I had just put on my uniform for the very first time. The first time I put on this uniform, I felt pretty nervous and intimidated. After a year of wearing it every.single.day, I’m a bit more relaxed. In fact, I couldn’t help but demonstrate my I-feel-like-a-karate-kid impression.
Though I haven’t been to school more than a few times in the last six months, the trip back to campus feels so familiar and I could probably do it blind-folded at this point. Our graduation ceremony took place at a college auditorium a few miles from campus, followed by a big banquet (created by the current culinary students) back at school.
All in all, including the class ahead of us, there were more than 50 students graduating on Friday. After starting with 12 students, my class consisted of only 8 graduates (including me) on the big day.
The ceremony began with a speech by the director of L’Academie, Francois Dionot, followed by the commencement speech given by 2007 James Beard winner, Chef R.J. Cooper, the chef/creator of Rogue 24.
Soon enough, I was hearing my name, walking (nervously) up onto the stage, shaking the hands of Chef Francois and all four of my chef instructors, and receiving my diploma!
This entire experience wouldn’t have been the same without each and every one them! Their dedication and energy for cooking, as well as teaching, was contagious. They pushed me to do my best and I truly appreciate everything they have done for me, as well as my classmates, over the past year.
Luckily, I was able to have both my parents, godparents, Connor, and Connor’s parents there to celebrate with me! They have all given me so much support this past year—and it is very much appreciated.
I especially have to thank Connor for his unwavering support of me this past year. I really don’t think I could have done any of this without him…
Whether he was helping me study, taking me to urgent care when I burnt my hand on that damn roast chicken, trying out my latest culinary creations, surprising me on my birthday at the restaurant, picking me up from work and saving me from having to walk/bike home in the rain, never complaining for not being around for dinners or most normal times of the day, encouraging me to keep up with the blog (and fulfilling my goal of writing almost every.single.day), or simply going out to the store to buy me purple Skittles—my comfort candy—on the hard days. Especially, since he is more than busy himself with the second year of medical school.
I also want to thank my fellow culinary partner-in-crime, Tasha, for putting up with me, making me laugh and not allowing me to take myself too seriously (it’s prone to happen), and keeping me sane for the past year! Ironically, our first conversation was about food blogs…
The rest of the day was filled with food, laughs, and far too many goodbyes! Here are a few highlights:
(Snowman Factory Gingerbread, complete with coal mine (for eyes), chocolate tree (for branches), carrot garden (for nose), and snow balls—so fun and creative!)
Do you see what I see?!
The rest of the day involved heading home and promptly falling asleep on the couch. Funnily enough that simple act could probably sum up the past year in a nutshell—thrilling, but exhausting!
Lastly, I want to thank you all for reading along and supporting me over the past year. I have loved sharing this journey with you and can’t wait to share what’s ahead!