Presentation is very important to me. It is one of the main reasons I went to Culinary School. What I enjoyed the most was Demo Lab, I would observe my Chef Instructor during these two hours in a constant awe. As I watched and listened, what I saw was something that cannot be defined in words. The way he arranged each and every item so delicately, as if it could dissolve. I wanted to emulate that skill. As I moved forward in my culinary education, using the experience towards my career as a Fashion Designer, I realized the final presentation is what I strive to do beautiful, and something I will use throughout my life. I had the idea that I could design a coat that would be elegant and classically cut, but I knew I had to put myself in the shoes of a chef to do so. As a Clothing designer my initial goal was to learn on the job through my culinary experience just exactly what a chef needs and wants. What has happened along the way has changed me forever. I have witnessed first hand the all consuming labor of love that is behind each and every plate of food placed before a customer or friend. I chose to get involved from the start, by working hard alongside the chefs so they will see that I am serious about designing. I assisted the 2011 WNC Chef Challenge and was asked back for the 2012. What I gained was the experience many young chefs today only dream of, the chance to work alongside over 32 of the best chefs in western North Carolina. Chefs who themselves are graduates of highly acclaimed Culinary Schools and have many years of working experience. To me working with these chefs was like being a little child in a candy store, my eyes wide open and absorbing every move they made, my ears finely tuned to every word they uttered, I wanted to emulate them, and so I eagerly volunteered to do whatever was necessary to assist in presenting the best possible dishes. It was in prepping, moving from station to station, learning every possible aspect of what a Chef does so that I can design a chef Coat that is functional but deserving of the chef who will wear it. However, the most important lesson I took from Culinary school was a deep respect for life.
This is a note from my personal Journal dated March 12 2011:
“I killed my first Lobster yesterday. It really affected me, for one thing I have a strong sense into the soul of animals, and they speak to me and bring me messages. I had never actually thought about the fact that the animals I am eating are real living breathing creatures, I get them already packaged and cleaned. When I went to my lab and my chef walked in with the live lobsters, he mentioned that we could stab it through the brain to kill it instantly or bring a pot of water to a rolling boil and drop them in. I asked what would be most humane, he felt stabbing through the brain, but I could not do it. My lobster was very active, his claws were rubber banded and he was waving them about. My chef said if I rub between his eyes he could fall into a trance, so I started to pet him, he relaxed and looked up at me and telepathically told me that he was my message for the day. I burst into tears…I walked away and the tears would not stop falling. How could I ????? Chef Caddell had told us over and over that these animals give their life for us to learn and we should never take that for granted. Chef Thomas Keller has a Chef take a live rabbit outside and kill it before he can get the job, he tells his chefs that in order to be a great chef he must have a great respect for the life given by the animal, not to disrespect the preparing process or that animals life was in vain.
I learned that yesterday. I put the lobster in the water and walked away…I carefully prepared my recipes with a deeper understanding. I did not eat those dishes.”