A Culinary Milestone

Today marks an important day in my culinary career. No, I didn’t win a prestigious award or get recognized for some amazing work. In fact, it’s not something most people would willingly and openly share (because it is often associated with weakness), but today was the first time I cried in school.

Now no one likes to cry, but I REALLY, REALLY hate crying. First of all, I look mad nasty and ugly when I cry. Second, I get massive headaches afterwards (probably because I get dehydrated and forget to drink some water). I consider myself to be a pretty tough cookie, but once you get me started, I will melt like refrigerated stock hitting a hot pan. If ignored, I can carry on fairly well when I’m upset, but if you acknowledge something off in my mood, you better be prepared for a flood. To make matters worst, I am only one of two females in my class (the other one doesn’t even really count…but I won’t get into that right now), and having 10+ guys stare at me while on the verge of tears, let’s just say, REALLY SUCKS.

The circumstances surrounding my “break-down” aren’t even legitimate, or at least I feel silly thinking that I cried about it. But okay, I’m a girl, and girls cry for a lot of stupid, stupid reasons, so give me a break. Yesterday was a production day, meaning we had to present two plates to the chefs. I completed my first dish and presented, but didn’t prep things ahead of time to do my second dish and DO IT WELL. So I made the call to sacrifice that score to help out with cleaning, as dishes were piling higher than me at the sink (when people really should be cleaning as they go), and would have started a chain of  reprimands from the chef if things didn’t move along. As a result of yesterday’s unfinished task, a whole bunch of us were told to complete the second dish today. It really caught me off guard and I felt just about as rushed as I did yesterday. The outcome of my plate was a half-grilled chicken breast with a hideous salad and fruit salsa (half of which the ingredients were missing because they weren’t ordered for today).

The chef critiqued my dish, giving it a heavily inflated (in my opinion) 4 out of 5 points. This would make most people happy considering the circumstances, but I was pretty upset. I didn’t even get to enjoy the scooby-snacks of sausages that we had prepared last week with the rest of the class. After cooling down and talking to my chefs, here are some things I learned about myself today:

I’m more of a perfectionist than I realize. I guess I have also been conditioned to expect immediate results when it’s all a learning process, and nothing is going to be absolutely spectacular first time around. I feel a need to prove myself, especially in such a male-dominated environment. I really want to be good at this, and I think fear of failing is what keeps me unsure. I didn’t know if I was passionate enough about cooking before to be attending culinary school, but my chefs told me today that they can see a very strong drive in me to produce quality food, so I guess it’s growing on me. I still think I prefer baking. 😛

There’s this guy in my class who always talks to me like I’m a baby. He makes his voice higher and says “aww” kind of stuff. I just want to punch him sometimes. I’m not afraid to stick my hand in a duck. There are worse things. Don’t you know I’m Chinese? We’re crazy.

Tomorrow is another day. I will succeed.


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