I decided it would be a good idea to give those of you who don’t know me a rundown on my history. I ended up writing this for my introduction to eGullet, and thought I would do well to post it here.
I started off in the big culinary world of ours in Telluride, Colorado, at a summer camp for years ago. They were offering a class on cooking at a local Thai restaurant, run by Chef Michael Guskea.
I was the oldest in the group, and ended up doing much of the hands-on work. The next summer I worked with Chef Guskea both teaching the class, and helping him with his catering work, which I greatly enjoyed. (The highlight of that being a 150 person dinner, buffet style, at the $45 million dollar house of one of the founders of Dell. Michael and I cooked and served all of the food, just the two of us.)
After that, I landed an internship at Kyma, the Greek restaurant of the Buckhead Life Restaurant Group in Atlanta, my hometown. I worked there Saturdays, getting a feel for how larger, upper scale restaurants functioned. I loved the family feel that I got from there, as well as the intense focus on the food. (They had me picking the yellow leaves out of the arugula IN the walk-in. 3 cases worth. It took me 2 hours, with the cooling unit blowing down the back of my neck the whole time. Yeah, I know…but I was making my bones!) One of the most rewarding things I got out of the internship was a good relationship with Pano Karatassos, who was previously employed at The French Laundry. (And it’s clear he gets much of his work ethic from there. If anything, and I do mean anything, was spilled, you would have to stop what you were doing and clean it all up. Water on the floor? Get a mop.)
After that, I took another internship at Nikolais Roof, the French/Russian restaurant at the top of the Hilton Atlanta. Chef Klapdohr turned out to be one of the nicest people I have ever met, and continues to ask the General Manager (the father of a friend of mine) how I am doing. (Yeah, I know, real hard to get the internship knowing the GM, but eh, gotta pull some strings now and then.) At Nikolais, I really learned appreciation for quality ingredients, and the techniques for keeping food waste down. (I also saw some incredibly cool things. Evidently they had just discovered this new crustacean thing in the Pacific, and sent half a dozen of them to Nikolais to cook. It was kind of a half lobster, half horseshoe crab.)
When the big college decision came up, I considered culinary school. I applied to Johnson and Wales, and CIA, and got accepted to both, as well as a dozen other liberal arts colleges.
After much thought, I decided that year that although I loved cooking, I knew at heart that I could not be a chef. I really just don’t think I could dedicate my life to something so stressful and difficult. I still cook, but I know I will never run a restaurant.
I ended up attending Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration, and am greatly enjoying it. This last year (my first there), was utterly amazing. They sent me all over the country to hospitality conferences (NYC, St. Louis, Anaheim) and all of my Hospitality related courses were the best I have ever taken. Of them, HF 100 was my favorite, not only because most of the information came almost intuitively to me, but also because my professor was so incredibly enthusiastic about teaching. My second favorite was probably HF 150, Intro to Cooking, which I will be a Teachers Assistant in next semester.
I am currently interning at il Castello di Poreta, in Italy. It is a small hotel / restaurant in the hills of Umbria, near Spoleto. I took Italian for my first two semesters, and am coming along slowly, but surely. I have been working in the kitchen, learning exceptional Italian cuisine from one of the best chefs in the area. This is about when the blog began.
Hopefully I’ll have the drive to keep it updated even when I get back to school to document all my foodie adventures in Boston!