Yes Chef!

I graduated from culinary school on Tuesday. It's been such a hectic few weeks leading up to the graduation. We were to prepare a grand buffet for our graduation and invite our families and friends to enjoy. I've been working on my menu and testing my recipes for weeks. We had our final written exam on Monday evening then we started to work on our desserts for the grand buffet. I was making coconut pana cotta with a pineapple sauce.

On graduation day, we were each to prepare a roast. So for me, I'm making Five Spice Roast Duck with hoisin sauce, Tropical salsa, Chinese pancakes and Asian Slaw. It is to be eaten like Peking Duck with the pancakes. Instead of the traditional scallions and cucumber slices, I'm making a salsa with pineapples, mangoes, cucumber and red onions. Its sweet and sourness compliment well with the hoisin sauce and the duck.

I went to bed around 1 a.m. that morning. Being worried about all the things I have to do for the buffet kept me awake. It felt like I finally felt asleep when the alarm came on at 5:30. I shot up immediately knowing that there is no way I can miss the 6:30 train. We met in the classroom at 7:45 a.m. and began to prep for the menu.  Everyone was so focused and determined to make beautiful dishes. It took longer than usual for me to fabricate the ducks. I had to clean up 3 whole ducks and 10 pieces of breasts to marinate before roasting. Then I worked on my sides. I did had problems with the pancakes, they took much longer than I expected to make. Luckily one of my classmates, Anna, whom I work with on a regular basis saved the day by helping me with one of my other sides; otherwise it was going to be left off the menu. So I'm sincerely grateful for her help.

Finally 15 more minutes until the reception begins and we have to run all of our food down a flight of stairs so they can be properly displayed. It was somewhat a chaotic scene, but all of our food did get finished and everything did look beautiful like our instructor had told us it would.

After we changed into our clean chefs' coats, we joined the party. It was wonderful to see all of our friends and families. We met up with past chef instructors who came to the reception. We tasted our creation and it felt good that everything was delicious. Then an overwhelming emotion came over me as our names were announced and our chef instructor donned us with our chef hats. I couldn't believe I have done it, after the long days of working full time and going to school part time, it is finally over. After the intense weeks leading up to the graduation due to conflicts arising between some of the students and our chef instructor, it is finally over. Everyone is getting along again. Everyone is finally working together and the result was beautiful. I was so proud of everyone. It was such an accomplishment. The sleepless nights, hard work and drama have all been worthwhile.

Culinary school has confirmed the importance of team work as well as many life lessons. I have a much deeper appreciation for the people who work in this industry. Chefs are like artists, their plates are blank canvases where they take fresh, colorful ingredients and create beautiful dishes for everyone to explore with their senses. I'm so happy that I finally took a leap of faith and followed my passion and attended culinary school. It confirmed that I do love cooking and creating dishes for people to enjoy, and I hope to be able to continue this journey and see where it'll take me. Next stop, another unexplored territory, an externship working in a restaurant.

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