Back to School

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Though my New Year’s Eve was incredibly laid-back and uneventful, 2012 has already been full of major life-altering events.  Yesterday, January 3rd, was my first official day of culinary school at L’Academie de Cuisine.  While it was strictly an ‘orientation day’, it was jam-packed full of events and information.  I’ll start at the beginning…

To ease us into the program, orientation day started at 10:00 am and went to about 2:30.  To ease my fear of being late on my first day, I gave myself plenty of time to eat breakfast, commute to school, and calm my nerves.  Though we had been given an orientation packet a few weeks ago, I still had lots of questions, such as how many students would be in my class?  Was it going to be really intimidating and scary or mostly full of excitement?  I really didn’t know.

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I arrived at school early and walked in the front door to be greeted by half the admission staff.  They immediately hugged me, which put an instant smile on my face, and led me to our lecture hall, where we would be starting off orientation.  After signing in and donning my name tag, fresh mug of coffee in hand, I sat down and soon after, met another girl in my culinary arts program.  The two of us quickly realized that red name tags were culinary arts students and blue name tags were pastry/baking students.  My eye kept wandering around the room trying to figure out who I would be working aside for the next six months!  As the room slowly began to fill up with all the new culinary arts and pastry/baking students, I began to feel more and more at ease.  Everyone was friendly and equally as nervous to start the day!

The day started off with a quick introduction of all the staff at school, followed by a long talk by director and founder of the school, Francois Dionot.  He essentially laid down all the rules of the school, while also discussing his background in the industry and philosophy behind the school–learning the fundamental and classic French techniques, which will be the building blocks of our culinary education.  Attendance was probably the most stressed rule of the day!  Tardiness and missing lecture or practicals is a no-no for obvious reasons, but it was still a bit intimidating nonetheless.  I’m hoping DC does not get graced with much snow this year!

We also learned that we are expected to arrive at the school significantly earlier than the official start time for several reasons.  The biggest factor is changing into our uniforms, which must take place at school for sanitation reasons.  In general, the chefs recommended also getting to school early to help the instructors prepare the classroom, ingredients for the day, or help make coffee for lecture time, which starts exactly at 7:00 am.  This means that I will probably be getting to school no later than 6:15-6:30 each day and that my wake-up call will now be no later than 5:00-5:15 am!  Ouch.

The rest of orientation day was filled with more talks about school rules and expectations, a tour of the school and kitchens, including the commissary (which is essentially a large storage room for all the food and ingredients), and a break for lunch.  I also came to discover and meet of the other 12 (!) students in the culinary arts program. The culinary arts class is always limited to only 22 students, but I had been hoping that it would be smaller than that and was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was (different start dates are more popular than others).  This means that there will be even more one-on-one time with the instructors, a bit more room in the kitchen, and I’m sure I will become even more close to my fellow classmates!

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The last agenda for the day was heading into the kitchen, where we were given our supplies, textbooks, knife kit (which I’ll describe more later), and uniforms!  Very exciting and definitely one of things I had been looking forward to all day.  Of course, I couldn’t leave you all without a photo of me in my new uniform.  It definitely felt surreal to put this on.

It’s even monogrammed with my name!

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**My uniform also includes a neckerchief, but I haven’t figured out how to tie it yet! Here’s hoping they walk us through that tomorrow…

Tomorrow is my first official school day.  Back soon with all the details!