Saturday, March 5, 2011

It's Been A While

I realize that its been about a month since my last post. I've been busy as hell with class, and traveling a lot, and honestly, I just haven't had time to write anything at all. It seems like just moments ago I was in my Cuisines of the Mediterranean class, and I blinked my eyes, and suddenly I've finished that class and my banquets and catering class and I'm getting ready for my wine class.

I've had some great weekends and visits to the City in that time too. Family members have come several times and it was a great chance to show them a first hand glimpse of what I do on a bi-weekly basis. First, my mom came along with my sister (surprise) to visit my Aunt and Uncle in CT, then go to the city. Visits to Ssam Bar, Artichoke Pizza, Milk Bar, and the ever so disappointing Doughnut Plant were on the agenda, and we enjoyed the shit out of it all. Anna even ate a few things she never had before and did a fairly decent job keeping up with me. She took the competition factor seriously, but still didn't match my level. I handed her the olive branch when I didn't go for the dirty water hot dog from the street cart which would have made me the undisputed champion.

I guess that one of the reasons I haven't posted in a while because my family came to visit. The reason I started writing this whole thing was because I was hundreds of miles away from them and I wanted to share my experiences with them, but they saw it for themselves this time. I had a blast and they did too.

A few weeks later I went back to the city because my Aunt from Texas was in town visiting with friends. She brought a friend with her from Texas too and wanted to take me and a friend out with them to dinner. I picked a spot and brought along my friend Taylor, who you may remember from previous posts. We met them at Convivio a one michelin starred restaurant in Midtown East. It's owned by Michael White, a Chef who has several restaurants, all featuring different regions of Italian cuisine. Convivio is his southern Italian restaurant. I ordered the fusili carbonara for my first course. Tender hand made fusili pasta with pancetta, pecorino romano cheese, and finished with egg yolk. It was incredible. And for my second course I got the Parmigiano crusted veal chop with guanciale brussell sprouts. It was a beautiful rendition of several of my favorite things in life. Salty cheese, caramelized brussel sprouts with pork fat, and tender baby animal. It was a great meal, with great company. I hadn't seen my aunt in years. Just spending time with her would have been good enough, but being able to have such a great meal at such a great location made it a very memorable night.

I finished my banquets and catering cooking class, which was pretty easy. I mean, before school I rocked out banquets for 800 people with a smaller crew in a smaller kitchen. 72 should have been a joke, but yet again, people at the CIA manage to over think and under prepare for shit and the shit hits the fan. But we survived. Then we started serving the banquets... thats right, for seven days I had to take drink orders and fill water glasses. The thing was, I actually didn't suck at it. And it was easy as shit.

Then the day came. The end goal of this class is that one class cooks the banquet for a graduation ceremony, and the other groups serves it. My group was responsible for serving it, and as group leader I was responsible for serving the VIP table. The table included CIA President Tim Ryan, Three Michelin Star Chef Laurent Gras formerly Chef of L20 in Chicago, and several Chef instructors from the CIA. I had visions of wine being dumped all over Gras, or hot coffee being spilt on Tim Ryan's lap, but as the day arrived, I had a sense of calm assuredness that everything would be fine. And it was. I was instructed to hover near the table to make sure that everyone had everything they needed. So, as they sipped they water, wine, and nibbled on their bread I listened intently to each of their conversations, and it was really interesting to hear what they talked about. Gras, a frenchman, is extremely interested in cycling and the Tour de France, so they discussed cycling, skiing, and other sports for a while, and then they discussed food trends, which nation was going to have the next big thing in the food world, and they discussed the Michelin system. They even took time to discuss "Giggles" a sex shop just north of campus.

When it was all over, I thanked the table, told them it was an honor to serve them today, and walked away. The strangest thing though, was that I realized in 15 short weeks, it will be me and my family sitting at those tables. In another blink of an eye I will be finished with school, and out in the world, working my ass off yet again. I'm ready for this vacation I call school to be over, and quick. Time to get back to reality, and out of this Hogwarts for cooks.

But shit, I still need a job.


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