Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Relevant experiences

Since my return from my first stay in France, about which you read in my first two posts, I spent some more time in Europe. During a second period in France, as an English teaching assistant, I spent 4 months working for free in a pair of restaurants in the South of France. This "stage," as it is called in the restaurant industry, led to a change in my plans for life. I returned to the US, moved past my former career plans as a graphic designer, and enrolled in culinary school. Being 31 at that time I felt I needed a jump-start in my experience and knowledge to try to catch up on time lost. So I moved to Chicago and began my life as a professional cook. I completed 3 of 5 quarters at a good culinary school. I took all the required classes and a good number of extra electives. Classes like cheeses, fermentation, wine & spirits, sausage making and even Chinese Cuisine helped me learn beyond the knife skills and product ID foundations. I got a job during my internship and ended up not going back to school.

Beside the cost of the classes, the conflicting schedules of the required monetary income and the education wasn't very accommodating. But I was fortunate to be working at a highly regarded restaurant that helped me increase my knowledge in the charcuterie world. And through the excitement and interest exhibited through this I was eventually the go-to guy for charcuterie items like terrines, as well as some pickled goodies to accompany them. A few weeks ago I left said restaurant to go to a new place. Though my current role is poissonier, the fish guy, I have been told I will soon be filling the new position of charcutier. Since it is a new restaurant and the menu is still under some review and changes there is not quite the need for a FT charcutier, so I fill the split responsibilities of both jobs. A couple sausages, some foie gras, and lots of mise en place for the fish station plus cooking during service. But when I am home, I am still stuffing casings, mincing meats and smoking bellies. I just can't get enough of the stuff!

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