Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Man... The CIA

I just need to blow off some steam… the CIA is starting to get to me.

My first week back at the CIA is complete. The homework is starting back up and I’m slowly gearing back into school mode. It is nice not having to be in class until 11 30 every day, but the classes that I am taking right now are killing me inside.

Nutrition… where I learned a few days ago that the balanced diet should be high in green vegetables, low in dairy, sodium, high fat proteins, and sugar. All I eat is pork, cheese, salt, and all I drink is Coke and the occasional cranberry juice in the dining halls. For obvious reasons this teacher and I do not get along. And she tries to tell me that 1 tablespoon of salt is enough to season 10 damn pork chops. I tablespoon of salt might be enough for one pork chop. MIGHT.

Restaurant Law, slightly informative. But really irrelevant. The material does not relate to Restaurants at all. And the teacher clearly has more interest in being a stand up comedian than teaching law… which I’m actually okay with.

Cost control and Food Purchasing… lets just say that its so amazingly informative, that at one point in class today I looked over at my friend Eli’s notebook, and he had filled two entire pages with the words “I like boobs.” And he will most likely walk away from the class with an A or a B.

Menu development is actually an awesome class. We get to conceptualize menus and restaurants and just talk about food in general. The main project for this class is designing a restaurant, and a menu for that restaurant. We have to come up with our own concept: anything goes. I am doing an offal themed snout to tail menu restaurant. There will be lots of charcuterie, lots of pork, lots of beer. I have to put a pig’s trotter on the menu… I have to.

Last and most certainly least, we have intro to management. I could wipe my own butt with the pages from that textbook and acquire more information than I do from this teacher. She spends an hour of every class telling all of the students why we have to stay for the bachelor program, (which I decided against while in Madison.) And she spends the next hour of every class trying to make us her best friend. She makes us take pop quizzes what are not for a grade. So, while I was in class on Saturday night at 8 30 and she handed me a quiz that isn’t for a grade… of course, I fill in random bubbles, turn in the quiz thirty seconds later, and wash my hands of that God forsaken class.

I am amazed at how much the focus of the teachers and staff has changed from before my externship. Before everyone was focused on teaching us as much as possible so that we didn’t make fools of ourselves on extern. But now that were back… they won’t stop until they have each of us in their pockets for another two years and another 70000 dollars.

And most of the students here don’t see through the insanity of it all. They probably aren’t paying for their own school, and have parents who can comfortably afford it. They probably don’t really like cooking, because the past month that I haven’t been in a professional kitchen… I’ve been going through withdrawal. The thought of spending two more years in strictly academic classes… when all I want to do is cook… is maddening. One student actually stated this as a reason for staying, “It’s two more years when we don’t have to be working.” I don’t know about this kid, but I’ve set some pretty lofty goals. I honestly am pissed at myself that I didn’t start sooner. I only have fifteen years or so of high intensity cooking in me, and so much to accomplish. While my classmates will be studying up on how to write payroll checks, I’ll be working in kitchens across the country, possibly the world, paying off loans half the size of those my classmates will be paying.

I also forgot how fucking arrogant a lot of CIA students are. These people think they are the salt of the earth. It makes me sick. So many attitudes… so many egos. You can look at people and see them thinking, “I go to the best culinary school in the world.” If there was one thing I learned in Madison, it was how to act in a kitchen. I remember when Nate, the Graze sous chef came in for the first time at the old site to do menu testing for Graze. No one knew who he was and he was looking for something to do. He came to me, the lowest person in the kitchen, and asked what he could do to help. I told him he could pick pea tendrils for me. He did it, no questions asked. Later that day, I found out that he would basically be one of my bosses. I was astonished that he had the humility to pick my freakin pea tendrils when he could have just walked away. That’s the mentality I want to have whenever I step foot in a kitchen. No name on my jacket. No cocky, I run this place, attitude.
I’ll try to be one of the good CIA grads who take their education for what it is… not a golden ticket to the Michelin Guide.

CIA… stop trying to sway me. I’m gone in June. No way… that’s what I say.

In other news, Jon and I bought a pig for Thanksgiving. It’s a 30-40 pounder. We’ve also got a turkey.

I’ll be posting tons of pictures and such from my Jersey Shore Thanksgiving.

Take it easy, pray I don’t go off on a faculty member or two.



  1. Nice Mike...real nice. Kills me though you have a 30-40 pound hog and not even close to Indiana. You know that is my favorite. Even after I showed cattle for 10 years in 4-H, still will choose the pork over steak any day.

    Keep it up man..You are doing a great job.

    OH...the dinner was AWESOME!!! Thanks again to you and Mr. Kolodzej.

  2. Okay, I know I'm like a month behind, but I gotta say it blows that you had to miss my and Chris's wedding in order to take a not-for-credit pop quiz!