In today’s blog I am going to share with you guys what it was like starting my culinary classes at Prince Georges community college (PGCC). In my first semester, the fall of 2017 I was enrolled in “Introduction to Culinary arts” and my general classes. I was so excited for classes to start, most of my days awaiting the class consisted of watching cooking shows like Guy’s Grocery Games, Chopped and Masterchef. I drew so much inspiration from these shows and actually dreamed of participating one day. I want to say a few weeks before class I was on campus getting my books and other supplies. At this school your intro supplies for this class was a 5th edition On Cooking Book, A knife kit, a chef jacket, checkered chef pants, nonslip shoes, food thermometer and the regular things like a notebook and writing utensils.
So when I was enrolled here, the location where culinary classes were held was not on the main campus and I had no car at the time. However, I was eager to make it there early. It is now 6 am, August 28th of 2017. I am leaving the house on my bike in my freshly ironed chef uniform with a jacket and a heavy bookbag full of books and knifes. I rode my bike for 10 minutes to get to the train station and from there I had to ride for 40 minutes. After reaching the station, I had to get back on my bike and ride 4 miles (20-25 minutes). I literally watched the sun rise on my bike every monday morning.
I was, of course the first one to reach school, and after seeing some of the others arriving inside the old elementary school building in their chef uniforms, it felt so real. I couldn’t wait to start learning and actually cooking. We were all waiting in the hallway of the school since none of us knew which classroom we would actually have class in. Most of us didn’t talk to each other while waiting. There was a competitive spirit in the air, we all knew it was just school, but aspiring chefs are competitive and like to be on top. My goal was to be top of my class, with the highest grades, the best cooking, and I was going to make it happen.
Incomes our instructor, Chef Whitfield, the man that would be teaching us the basic principles of cooking. There were about 15 students total and some of my classmates were fresh out of high school like me, while some were elderly just taking a class for fun. As each week passed, we read a chapter of our textbook and did homework assignments to memorize cooking methods, equipment and conversions. As we were learning the content you could tell most of the students were tired of reading, but I was always intently reading the book and taking notes. “Wow, so braising is when you sear meat to achieve the Mailard reaction and then add liquid to the pot and simmer it to make the meat tender and soft” I thought as I was reading. I couldn’t wait to put this knowledge to use!
Finally, weeks after our class started we walk to the kitchen and begin our first cooking assignment. It was a classwide assignment where each group created a component for one dish that was being made. One group made rice pilaf, one made hollandaise sauce, my group made pan seared chicken thighs, one group made sauteed bell peppers and another group made glazed carrots. Looking back, our plate presentation needed some work but we were all just happy to be able to cook.
This concludes this story about intro to culinary arts, next time I will share some more in depth history of my time next semester in food production 1, the dishes we created, and our practical final exam.
As always, thank you all for reading, I hope you enjoyed and have a blessed day.