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Sunday, February 20, 2011




The first cut
I’m suffering just a little bit while I’m writing this as I had a mishap in the kitchen Monday morning in my Pantry and Breakfast class.  Okay so I’m not really suffering that much but this story bears telling as all culinary students will, more than likely, experience my buffoonery sooner or later.

It all started when only 3 out of 9 students showed up for class.  John and I always show up early about 5:30 am; we started to prepare our portion of the service and didn’t think too much about attendance as we got swept up in our tasks becoming oblivious to time.  I just happened to walk by the sign-in sheet and saw that Chef Comstock had written under our names in red and rather large letters “YOU ARE LATE”.  I thought this move to be bold as he is calling out the rest of the students and I’m sure they already know they're late.

Regardless, 10 minutes went by and Melissa showed up.  I thought to myself great, everyone should be getting here soon….then 20 minutes went by and it became quite clear that we were only going to have 3 students for class and we had to get all the food for service prepped for the entire college that morning.  Needless to say, we kicked it into overdrive and that’s where my carelessness came into play.

I was in charge of getting the omelet station ready and was just finishing up with my last garnish item, cutting the olives.  Some of the olives had a mind of their own and wanted to run all over the cutting board and I grabbed the wayward ones bringing them back to my chef’s knife only a bit too fast and I sliced through my thumb that had found its way in the path of the blade.

The whole experience felt a bit surreal as though it was just a silly daydream.  I’m watching my thumb edge ever closer to my knife as if it were summoned there by the accident police.  Then I could only watch, helplessly, as I gaze at the end of my digit oozing blood down my wrist and then forearm. I almost knew it was going to happen before it did…not sure how or why my mind was working this way but it was like I did it to myself on purpose.  I know this is preposterous as I don’t really fancy cutting myself because I’m not a big fan of pain.

Oh well, it happened and that’s that right?  A few days later I ran into a student that was absent that day.  He’d heard about the lack of support and told me he felt no responsibility to the class and if he wanted to beg off for whatever reason then that’s what he’ll do.  I asked him if he was serious about becoming a chef and if classes and learning were important to him.  He immediately became defensive stating that I just don’t understand and he rambled on that we shouldn’t have to cook for the school’s breakfast program.  “We’re not getting paid like employees so we shouldn’t be expected to act like them right?” he shot back.  I couldn’t believe what I was hearing but I left it alone and walked to my next class.  Yeah folks it’s a crazy, wonderful, strange and beautiful world.  I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 The three Mark’s –
I had a good friend from my engineering days come to Indy for a visit last week and we met for dinner.  He had been here before on business and we met then as well but this time he brought along a business associate.  I’m always eager to meet new people and welcomed the added company.  I need to mention that my friend’s name is Mark and his friend’s name is also Mark.  So there are three Mark’s at the same table for dinner so we just kind of pointed at one another while talking.

My friend’s friend Mark learned of my background during conversation and started asking me a bunch of culinary questions.  At first I was somewhat flattered but he just wouldn’t stop.  He’s one of those folks that fancy them self a foodie and a homespun chef and was trying to one up me; if you will.  I wasn’t deterred realizing my friend was sitting just to my left and I wanted to put on a show of gratification because he’d traveled so far to visit with me.

I seemingly answered all of Mark’s questions regarding food when our meals arrived and he started in with the questions regarding meat because he ordered a steak.  Luckily, I’m in a class called Meat Fabrication and was able to quench his thirst for meaty knowledge.  Okay now I’m wondering if there’s going to be a round three to this evening’s quiz show?  Yes, yes there was and it was focused on desserts.  He knew of my baking and pastry class I had last semester and just couldn’t help himself with all his questions.

Being a gracious friend to my buddy; I knew I had to survive this onslaught of curiosity and did so seemingly with pleasure (not really).  I have to admit that it did take away from my visit with my pal and put a pall on the actual enjoyment we should be having. 

Hey folks, when you meet a musician, actor, writer, chef, etc; please don’t go on and on about what they do or make incessant queries.  If you must have knowledge, please take baby steps in acquiring the information.

I absolutely love what I’m doing and can’t wait to become a chef in a real kitchen.  Along the way there are always pitfalls that cause a bit of heartburn and they’re really just minor annoyances.  My annoyances didn’t kill me so I must be stronger right?

Have a great day and never give up!

Mark (Sparky)

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