I went to culinary school at Johnson and Wales University in 2011. Graduated in 2012. Started working at Five and Ten during my final trimester.
But what happened before 2011 and after 2012?
I went to Auburn University after graduating from high school to major in Food Science. It was a lot of fun. There were parties, bars, football games, and, of course, classes. I enjoyed my studies and my social life, but I overloaded myself with courses Fall 2010. I was dating a guy that was a douche. I was stressed out. Suddenly, life wasn’t nearly as fun as it once was. I had to make a change.
I always wanted to go to culinary school. While I was in middle school, my class made a “dream ladder.” I didn’t have a clue what my dream job at that age was, but the ladder was placed in the lounge when we were seniors and I located my dream: Become a Famous Chef. You gotta remember that I was 12 years old and I had every intention of being famous because, at that age, it seemed like an easy feat. I remember being obsessed with the Food Network and Top Chef. While I was home alone, I would make pancakes as if I were filming my own cooking show (I seriously loved pancakes). It’s what I loved to do and I spent a lot of my time searching the internet for different types of recipes and cooking gadgets. So when my life turned upside down during my time at Auburn, applying for culinary school was the only thing that I knew to do. I dropped out of college after Christmas Break in 2011 and secretly applied to Johnson and Wales before I even consulted my parents. Imagine their surprise if you can, that is.
So, that was that. Goodbye, Auburn and Hello, Johnson and Wales.
You better believe I had the time of my life. Class consisted of learning cooking techniques and eating as we did. Braising, roasting, frying, baking…the list goes on and on. I woke up every day excited to go to class, but who wouldn’t when they knew that it was wine and cheese tasting day. Drinking wine at 7:30 in the morning? The 21 year old in me thought “hell yes”! The 25 year old that I am now is more like “hell to-the no…” Who wants a hangover by noon? Not this girl.
The opportunity at Five and Ten came about for my internship. I simply made a phone call, drove down to meet Dean Neff (the head chef at the time), and was hired. After all, no one turns down free labor. I quickly learned that what you’re taught in school doesn’t apply to what you need to know in life. There is simply no way to replicate the fast-paced environment that a Friday night in a high profile restaurant creates. You learn quickly, though. It’s fun, stressful, and hotter than you could ever imagine.
It’s a hard life. Long hours. Little pay. Lots of drinking. Did I really want my life to be like that? No. I love food. I love cooking. I don’t love 80 hour work weeks. I don’t love getting home at 2 AM every night.
I left. My parents offered to pay for me to finish my Bachelor’s degree back at home. So I went. It wasn’t an easy choice. I was in the perfect place to start my culinary career, but I also knew that I wanted more in my life than to live and work in a kitchen. It just wasn’t for me.
But I learned a lot and I have a lot of knowledge to share. I’ve now officially graduated and looking to start the next phase of my life. What is it, you may ask? Not a clue, but it sure as hell is going to involve food.