Week 3

Jason: Oh, Ais, you have to crank it up all the way.
me: Wait, so it says it’s 300 but it’s really- dangit. What’s the discrepancy-
Jason: That’s a really big word, Ais.
me: … Ok, look. What temperature should the oven really be at?
Jason: Just crank it up all the way.
me: Great… Thanks.

Some things just never change.

And other things are extremely surprising and almost difficult to adjust to, like the fact that I don’t have to count on just myself to look out for myself with regards to my food allergies. “Ais, try these mushrooms with nuts in them.” They don’t actually, but it’s Chef or Jason’s way of saying that yes, they’re cognizant of my nut allergy and aren’t deliberately trying to kill me. I think they’re seriously starting to get insulted when I ask if there’s nuts in something they’re offering to me, which is just habit on my end because I don’t want to die… Jason felt it necessary to assure me that Chef caught on to his fish allergy pretty quickly.

Did I mention that Jason’s now the tallest person in the kitchen? I was at the fryer and Chef was behind me standing on a milk crate to reach stuff hanging above the middle station. Jason must have appeared amused, because Chef said something which was apparently in our defense that made me laugh.

We – Jason and I – did get into an argument, the gravity of which did not really hit me until class last night. The first point was that UC didn’t – doesn’t – care about the Culinology students or our program; that much we agreed on. But then, “At least our teachers care-” “What?! No they don’t!” and that was where the argument began. He was willing to concede that Sanjay cared, and gave me maybes for Prof T and Chef Yek, but he said something which pretty much summed up his entire side of the argument; “Sanders shows; she doesn’t teach.” He went on about the cons of being taught my industry professionals instead of certified instructors, and how they haven’t been trained to reach the student.

I have mixed feelings.

I’m sure we all have this spectrum, from subjects we detest, to ones we’re less comfortable with, to ones that we tolerate, and finally the subjects that we love, of and on which we speak with confidence and authority.

On the one hand, there’s that saying that you haven’t really learned something until you can teach it to someone else. When the student isn’t being reached by their instructor, it subconsciously calls into question the instructor’s true proficiency in the subject. I first encountered that with Goebel, who insisted that “the Goebel way is the only way,” in direct contrast to so many previous instructors asking and encouraging students to be open-minded, to learn the preferences of the current chef instructor and conform to those preferences for class purposes, but always to be cognizant of the fact that in the long run, it was up to the student to look holistically at the various methods they had learned and would learn over years of experience, and to then decide for themselves what really worked best depending on the situation and problem presented.

But Goebel is a perfect example of one flaw in Jason’s argument; that he was a ‘certified’ instructor didn’t have any bearing on the fact that his style was just a major turn-off and prevented him from reaching me on any decent and significant level. The entire experience of Goebel’s class left nothing but a bad taste in my mouth and a desire to never have to be in the same room with the person again. I learned absolutely nothing. Zip. And Laura Landoll is the quintessential example in my life of the exact opposite. She’s the industry professional, not a teacher. Yet when Chef asked me yesterday if I liked wine, Jason answered for me: “Asking her if she likes wine is like asking me if I like beer.” Laura’s teaching style isn’t the most effective that I’ve encountered, but her passion for her work touched me and inspired me to take the subject and make it my own, to put my time and my energy into the subject, to get what I wanted out of the study of viniculture and viticulture. She’s the reason my 830+ library of flash cards is still growing, though the class is long past and the Introductory Sommelier Course passed with flying colors, the pin received and the Prosecco thoroughly enjoyed.

The homeschooler in me insists that what you put into something is what you get out of it. Homeschooling taught me to take control of my education. That’s reality. But also part of my reality is the fact that there were classes that I put plenty into, got an A, and either retained nothing or found myself horribly misguided when attempting to apply what I thought might be of actual value to a real-life situation. Waste of good money and good time.

I have no words of wisdom on the subject. I have my side, and see the sense in Jason’s. Like I said, mixed feelings. It’s one of those just-depends things, as much as we all hate it when someone says so.

What makes more sense now, though, is Jason’s response to my, “Do you ever regret it?” question from my first night working. “Not the time I spent in culinary school.” Emphasis on culinary school, which we both knew meant that UC was the disappointment. That’s unfortunate. And it definitely had considerable bearing on my little why-am-I-still-in-school crisis a month and a half ago. I’m hoping my learning style might be different enough from Jason’s to make it possible for me to not have quite the same feeling when it’s all said and done.

Anyway, back to lighter things. The IPM dude came in and creeped me out slightly. “Have you seen anything moving around?” he asked me, very dramatically, as he passed me prepping upstairs. “No…” I replied slowly, trying to match his gravity. I ended up prepping other things downstairs with Jason, and the IMP guy stopped on his way back up and out to tell Jason that everything looked great, that we had zero problems and that he had shifted things around and fixed traps, blah blah blah, etc. Jason sounded very matter-of-fact and optimistic in his to-the-point farewell to the dude, but as soon as he was gone, Jason turned to me and said, “Ais, that guy is f*cking nuts.” I burst out laughing and asked if he’d ever been around when the IPM dude for Daveed’s was there. “No, I didn’t even know we had one…” Apparently the first time that this IPM person had come into Mantra, Jason hadn’t known who he was or why he was there, and the guy had just started looking around and moving stuff, and when Jason asked what he was doing, the guy had started talking to him about completely random stuff. “Oh, so he’s like me, talking about random stuff; I do that.” “What? No, Ais, you don’t talk like this guy. He was just kept going on; I was like, Dude, I’m trying to work here.” So I told him about the one time I’d been downstairs when the IPM guy was talking to Chief and been freaked out by what I was hearing. He was describing to Chief what a certain new trap did to a mouse, and he was very enthusiastic about the tiniest of gory details. “Ais, maybe it’s the same guy!” ROTFLWTIME. I think this might have been where Chef arrived and found me choking with laughter. He seemed bewildered/perplexed…


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