A recent trip to New York inspired me to tap into those hidden culinary skills. Being the urban jungle where dreams are made of, the dreamer bug just bit me hard in NYC! It is such a melting pot of all these cultures and cuisines you can imagine. You can’t just help but wonder (pardon the Sex and The City reference…), if you can make it here, can you really make it everywhere? (Yes, you can almost hear Alicia Keys singin’)
So this constant self-searching continues, and leads me to the halls of ICE. Not the melting kind, but the Institute of Culinary Education. It is the biggest and most state of the art campus in the whole of New York City. They have a spanking new campus on Lower Manhattan, with magnificent city views and the Statue of Liberty within sight!
While I was sipping my coffee outside and waiting for my school tour, I took this photo of a bird, which looked gigantic side by side with Lady Liberty. A play of perspective in the early morning.
As I entered the ICE campus, I waited at this reception area.
You can see from here their food labs and classrooms. I can feel the excitement!
Not only was I able to get a school tour, I had the chance to sit in on one of their classes. The chef instructor on board was Chef Robert Ramsay. I snapped a shot of Chef Robert Ramsey‘s bio on the ICE blog:
(Screenshot taken from http://blog.ice.edu/2016/01/20/meet-chef-robert/)
For that Saturday early morning class, Regional French Cuisine was on the menu. Everybody seemed intent in class, not distracted at all by the chef’s boyish charm. They discussed the cuisines of Alsace, Normandy and Brittany. For the first hour or so, Chef Robert lectured on the traditions in these regions, what the produce was like. Shortly after, he gave instructions on what the menu was for the day and how the students were to manage their tasks.
One thing I remembered him saying was his book recommendation. Chef Robert said that, to him, Culinaria France is the most well-written documentary of regional French cuisine. He has a very old copy of it, and he would find himself returning to it as reference. And if he thought so, I blindly agreed. (Hmmm, gullible…) As soon as I came home, I ordered it on Amazon!
I wondered what the rooster was doing on the front page of a French cookbook. But not long after I found out that the rooster was the unofficial national symbol of France. And mental light bulb went on *ting*! That’s why the French Football Federation has a rooster in its emblem. And also, Le Coq Sportif was a rooster! Haha… Thanks Wikipedia!
So the dream of entering culinary school continues. I feel awkward admitting that I will be a career changer at almost 40. I was told at ICE that at least 30-40% of their studentry are about my age. And that most of them are in the middle of their careers, and they do want a change! So I am not alone, and I am not weird!
I needed more validation. I searched the Net to further motivate me. And I chanced upon this blog post. Yeah exactly the question I had in mind:
I read through the comments, and there are many many others like me. It was very comforting that a lot of people found food as their life’s passion. But the only thing that’s keeping us are the astronomical tuition fees! Matriculation for the Culinary Arts Program at ICE is around USD40,000. Ouch, to the heart, to the head, to the pocket, TO THE BANK!
There was even one article I read that David Chang, famed New York restaurateur and Emperor of Momofuku, felt that the culinary system is f(*$&’n broken.
Reading up on it brought the devils in my head to life. Is it a good choice? Is it a worthy investment? Am I ready to be a line cook from graduation, earning $15 an hour?
And for a career changer like me, is it really worth the risk?
I guess it all boils down to these two questions: One, what do you want in life and Two, what are you going to do about it?
Oh and all these many others…
Doesn’t it all start with the first step?
Don’t they all say, that visualization makes your dreams reality?
Does it also count that when you shout it out loud on cyberspace, it makes it come true much faster?
And so I say, to the whole universe of cyberspace, this blog post is my first step.
This is me, claiming it.
Hello world, the dream starts now. This is Day 1.
Institute of Culinary Education
225 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10281