Posts tagged ‘culinary school’

July 18, 2011

A Day In The Life of a Culinary School Intern

by Jen Wanous

Chef Ross asked me to drop the mirepoix I was working on to grab crates filled with mushrooms.  Like any good intern, I quickly assisted him.  Eagerly, I watched as he fanned through cap and stem, showing me exactly how he wanted each of the three different types of mushrooms cut.  I took my knife in hand with confidence, knowing that the pizza guy upstairs was ten minutes into service and needed these mushrooms ASAP.  The mushrooms were big, ranging from the size of my fist to my forearm.  I had never seen mushrooms like these before; exotic fungi that were clean, white and utterly sponge-like.

I was moving along swiftly, thinking how uniform the slices were looking. I was going pretty fast and then–slip–the knife carved out a nice little portion of fingertip.  The shock was immediate and a loud gasp escaped my lips.  Damn it.  With many coworkers looking on, I went over to the hand washing station, all set to announce that it was fine, no big deal…but shit…half of my fingernail was gone and the blood was steadily dripping.  I wrapped a paper towel around my finger, held it tight above my head and then the tears came.  I didn’t want to be a big wimp, but crying is such a rarity for me and I wanted to be present enough to just feel the shock and pain in the moment.

When the chef came over to assess the situation, I tried my darndest to pull it together.  He quickly put on latex gloves and administered first aide.  He took on a doctor’s technical skill but still kept the bedside manor of a chef, saying sternly, “That’s why it’s always safety first.”

I was thoroughly embarrassed. At that moment I wanted nothing more than to find a small crawl space under which I could nurse my mangled finger and my wilted pride.  A ray of understanding and support came from my fellow NGI student, Marta, who is also interning there with me. When my ears were swooshing and I didn’t know what to do next, she helped me cover the basics like getting a ride home and getting my stuff.

The Chef told me that I should probably go to the hospital to have it checked out.  Ugh.  I gathered my things, feeling like I was asked to pack my knives and leave a la ‘Top Chef.’ With five Band-Aids affixed to my middle finger I gathered my things and said, “Thanks Chef, I’ll see you tomorrow.”


ABC Kitchen is where I am doing my internship for culinary school.  The James Beard Foundation recently named it Best New Restaurant in the Country.

Oh and my finger will be fine.  I just have to walk around with it gimpy and gauze-wrapped for five days!

March 21, 2011

Bringing Beef Jerky

by Jen Wanous

Have I mentioned that my school is crunchy, earthy, herbal? Being educated in Santa Cruz, I am well versed in these ways. I have walked the straight and narrow as a vegan and was a proud (“meat is murder” bumper sticker sporting) vegetarian for 8 years. I have however since, changed my ways reigning as the current Bacon Throwdown champion of New York, enjoying the bounty of a carnivores diet.

In my class at culinary school, there are 16 of us. Five vegan. Four gluten-free. The rest are vegetarian, except for one other, besides me. (Maybe a few flexitarians when the ribs on the grill look too good.)

As a snack in my first week, I decided to pack along some beef jerky. High protein, low fat, stores well.  A shriveled up carcass of deliciousness resembling what a well mummified labia must look like.

As I slowly pulled it out of its pouch, I felt the 26 veggie eyeballs on my jerky. I quickly covered up the bag as I discreetly munched. I was sure that the beefy teriyaki aroma was filling the space around me and I would be detected. After getting through the tough chews of just a couple pieces, I stashed it back in my bag and decided to work on my corn chips.

Now, in my second week at school, I feel a bit better about my meat eating status. In fact, I just made a yummy bacon sandwich. As I’m writing this even, my fingers are slicked in a bit of lard, as I type this out on my handy dandy iPhone on my lunch break. (I do have a year’s supply of bacon you know!)

Here is the recipe:

Bacon Sammy

4 crisp pieces of bacon (more if you’re feelin it)*
2 slices of bread (sourdough is yum)
Goat cheese
Caramelized onions

Optional: sautéed kale
Parsley, chopped

* fake’in bacon will work too, veggies.

Here’s how you do caramelized onions:

Slice 1/2 an onion. Put about a tablespoon of hot fat in a pan. Add a few dashes of salt.  Med heat to get a little bit of browning on ’em then turn the heat down. Cook ’em for a good 15 mins on low heat until they get a really nice caramelly brown color. Pour a tad of wine in the pan (about 2tbs) to deglaze and pick up the deelish bits. Then you have caramelized onions to add to your bacon sammy.

Assemble all ingredients except the parsley in the sandwich. Place face open in a toaster oven or broiler for about 7 mins, until the goat cheese is browned. Add the parsley. Enjoy!