Who is the typical culinary school student?

As everyone who regularly reads this blog knows, I'm a culinary school student. And, one of the most frequent questions I get is: So who goes to culinary school? Vegetarians? Vegans? Career-changers? Mommies? Teens?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

So after the break, I've got an introduction to some of the characters at my culinary school (if you want to read about the crazy exploits at my school, I write about it at CookingSchoolConfidential.com).

Chef instructors
I know I said I’d introduce you to the students. But no introduction of culinary students is complete without first introducing the culinary instructors. So let’s start with them.

Motorcycle Chef
“If you put cooked pasta into your minestrone before it is served it will turn into yuck and I will have a hissy fit.”

Envision, if you will, a Jewish, ex-New Yorker, motorcycle-riding (although she prefers the term “enthusiast”), atheist who can julienne a mean onion (she was talking to me as she did it and never once looked at her hands; and, yes, her slices were perfect) and who has, what she calls, “potty” mouth and isn’t afraid to use it.

She tends to dress in black from head to toe and, quite frankly, shocked me to my core the one day she wore a pink blouse. She has a shock of deep brown hair that, try as she may, insists on escaping from her twin braids in stiff strands. She looks, in the best possible way, like Mama Cass. Not, mind you, because she is heavyset (although she is) but, rather, because she has that elongated, cheeky face Mama Cass had. And she likes to refer to her menopause at least once a lecture.

In other words, she is fascinating.

Chef Nepal
“When you cut, you must hold your other hand like a claw, a claw, my friends, and no one get hurt.”

Chef Nepal is the chef students either love or hate. I happen to adore him, so I didn’t even realize some students were not equally infatuated until I overheard complaints. And I understand why they are complaining. Because, every though he is half the size of Motorcycle Chef, he can be twice as tough.

And twice as tough as a potty-speaking, menopausal chef is tough indeed.

See, chef Nepal barks out orders like no one’s business. But he does so because he so wants everyone to do well. So I take those orders for what they are: A learning tool.

Besides, the man can’t help but grin all the time which makes me want to grin back. Even when he gives me grief for not cleaning my workstation.

Which he did yesterday. But I learned.

Culinary school students
I didn't want to overwhelm you with all the students, so these are just some of them. But if you want more (and more chefs), then drop by CookingSchoolConfidential.com for the never-ending saga of life at culinary school!

Vegan gay guy
“I have seen the light and I am going to eat meat.”

Vegan gay guy drove everyone nuts trying to add almond milk to this, apple cider vinegar to that, and refusing to ever, ever try MSG.

To put this into perspective, Motorocycle Chef has cursed him out, not once, but twice. Admittedly, he deserved it. And the other students tend to make fun of vegan guy, snickering when he talks about the lover he has on the side (In case you have not been reading my posts, vegan gay guy is married to a woman he says he has never made love to. When I asked him why he was married he said, “It is like Will and Grace, only better.”).

Today, vegan gay guy proclaimed that he would, from now on, eat meat. And, to celebrate this, he made chicken meatballs. Unfortunately, those chicken meatballs collapsed in the oven, ending up resembling fried eggs. But, he managed to salvage the situation by making a great chicken broth and putting the meatballs in that for a nice, hearty soup. A soup so good, in fact, that motorcycle chef told him it was perfect. But, alas, he ruined his soup by adding a healthy splash of apple cider vinegar. And, Motorcycle Chef cursed him out for it.

Still, not only does he take all criticism with good graces, but he is the first person to help anyone who needs it. So, nuts as he is, he is always welcome on my team.

Just as long as I remember to hide the vinegar.

Complaining girl
“I didn’t want to add that salt. It makes it taste like cheap stock from the grocery store. The chef is wrong. She shouldn’t have made me add it because now it is too salty.”

The first term students, of which I am one, were split into two, seperate groups. Complaining girl was in the other group. Complaining girl got thrown out of the other group. Complaining girl is now in our group.

Complaining girl complains. A lot.

Complaining girl has the most beautiful blue eyes you have ever seen. Beautiful blue eyes that are all the more noticeable because she has dyed her hair dead black.

But, in about two minutes, all you notice about complaining girl are the complaints. Even her pretty blue eyes can’t save her, I’m afraid.

Sweet line cook
“Mmmm, bacon. It should be in everything.”

Tattooed from wrist to shoulder, amazingly good with a knife and a saute pan, and sweet to his core, this is the guy who has the answers, is willing to help, and just gets stuff done with a smile.

Kid courageous
“Garlic. I love garlic so much I’m gonna make garlic pasta.”

He’s eighteen years old, and with his shock of red hair and splash of freckles, looks it. He never met a spice he did not like, and feels free to add them to any and everything in whatever combination strikes his fancy. Even if it does not strike anyone else’s fancy. Which it often does not. But he is unperturbed.

Alaska quiet
“I smoke my own salmon. It is great.”

From Alaska, with reading glasses and thick, gray hair, he is at the opposite end of the age scale as Kid Courageous. Quiet, where Kid is noisy, he quietly goes about his task, getting it done with a gentle grin.

Blush and dimples
“Creme fraiche, yum yum.”

She wears scads of make-up and comes from some hole-in-the-wall town, but has the most sophisticated taste palette among us. All of, what, twenty-something, she spiced her fingerling potatoes with lemon zest and thyme and put minced garlic and parsley on her fries. It is her food I look for when it is time to taste test.