Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off To Work We Go

Snow day, schmo day, the kids staying home puts a crimp in my ability to work. But at least I can stay in my jammies, poor hubby had to scrape the ice off and head down to open the restaurant. It brought back to mind a scene from one of my favorite books, The Making of a Chef, Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America by Michael Ruhlman.

For those unfamiliar with the background of the book, Ruhlman, after writing an article about the CIA decided to take a leave of absence from his journalist job to attend "kind of" as a student of the program. I say "kind of", because it's actually a two year program, and he got to jump ahead to classes that second year students take. And his intent was not to graduate, but to write a book about the program, with the full knowledge and blessing of the school.

Anyhow, back to the scene, after a particularly nasty weather episode and facing a treacherous drive down Route 9, Ruhlman decides to call the chef instructor to let him know he'd be missing an important test that day. The chef, Chef Pardus (who is still an instructor there today) left no doubt in Ruhlman's mind that he was disappointed in the choice. So Ruhlman bundles up and heads off to certain destruction in the snowstorm. After the test, Ruhlman questioned Pardus why he had sounded so withdrawn when conditions were truly dangerous outside.

Pardus explains, "Part of what we're training students to be here is chefs-and when chefs have to be somewhere, they get there, .... Chefs are the people who are working on Thanksgiving and Christmas, when everyone else is partying. Or at home with their family."

Somebody had to be there.

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