The Beatuy and Glamor of Culinary School

by Jen Wanous

After shelling fava beans for hours, fingers wrinkled and back sore, this Cinderelli was able to go to the ball.  And what a ball it was!  The James Beard Award gala is the Oscars of the culinary world.  No expense was spared.  With a black tie dress code and food from some of the best chefs in America, I was was wowed by the glitz and glamor of the evening.  The chef from my prospective internship, Gabrielle Hamilton took Best Chef of New York City!  In her acceptance speech she said,  “All you have to do is open a can of sardines and a box of Triscuits, call it a signature dish, and you get Best Chef New York City.”  Another reason why I think this woman is so awesome.  Even after winning best chef of New York City, she abstained from pretentiousness.

My date, Annie and I indulged in some of the 30 odd dishes available –  a smorgasbord of gourmet samplings from the top chefs in the country.  I smiled when I saw the smoked sea scallops and fava beans.  The day before I had worked with chef Timon Balloo of Sugar Cane restaurant of Miami to prepare that dish.  I told Annie and every other person in earshot , that I shelled those favas!!  I was proud to be a part to the event from the inside out.  As an Events Manager prior to starting culinary school, I was often on the inside of events, rarely able to enjoy them.  This time though, I was able to have the inside scoop and be able to fully partake and appreciate what exactly went into pulling an event like this off.   Back to the food:  we had caviar on prosciutto, octopus carpaccio, pulled pork on grits, salmon sashimi…and the top distilleries were handing out the latest cocktail concoctions.  Big ice cubes were all the rage and we enjoyed a Hendrick’s Gin drink poured over one of the giants.  We made small talk with the co-owner of the Spago chain and nodded a hello to Jacues Pepin.  It’s fun to be famous!

Meanwhile, back at school, we had a week of baking.  From cakes to pies to cookies, we rolled out some beautiful gems of sculpted sugar.  We learned how to make most treats vegan and some even gluten-free.  They all were delicious.  Stay tuned for a gluten-free baking post.

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