May President’s Message
A Message from The President
What Inspires You?
Happy Summer fellow members, student culinarians, and food enthusiasts! I know I am rushing the season, especially since as I pen this message, we are still nearly 6 weeks from the official start of summer, however, it is 90° outside!!
At our monthly meetings, we have been seeing a number of new faces as well as some we have not seen in a while. Thank you, welcome and welcome back!! We are pleased and honored to have you share your experiences and ideas with everyone and hope we will see you often.
So…… What inspires you? Perhaps it is not a what, but a person or event. We tend to think of positive things inspiring us, but very often negative events in our lives have more of an effect on us. We hear nearly daily, stories that break our hearts. Children being abused by people who were themselves abused as children. School shootings in which the shooter was a student who was bullied. Hate crimes and killings because people are different from the perceived normal. The differences could be as simple as the color of their hair, their tattoos or piercings or even their weight.
Nearly a year ago, as the culinary school at which I had taught for 11 years was in the process of teaching out and closing its doors, it became my time to be “let go”. As the anniversary of that day draws close, I am pensive of how my teaching career began, in essence, what inspired me.
The word “hate” is a very strong word and one not to be used lightly. Having said that, I HATED school. This hatred was due to many factors including the teachers. Some of the teachers were very old and set in their ways and style of teaching. I firmly believe they had not updated their curriculum and lesson plans in 30 years. Some were harsh, critical and not very supportive. Others were young and cared more about being “cool” and the favorite teacher than in teaching. But, there were a few teachers who were amazing. They made learning exciting and interesting, not a chore or punishment. Interestingly enough, while these fabulous teachers inspired me, they did not inspire me as much as the teachers who made me hate school. While I had taken advanced placement courses all through school, graduated an “A” student and had received scholarships, I chose not to attend college.
Fast forward many years, many different jobs and attending culinary school, I had the opportunity to teach hobby classes at a small culinary school. I was in love! I taught hobby classes for a couple of years until one day I received a phone call asking if I could substitute teach for the professional culinary arts program. I ended up substituting for the rest of the term. The feedback was so positive that a year later I was offered a full time position. The rest as they say, is history.
Over the years, I would often tell my students, I am the Chef I am and the Instructor I am primarily because of the negative things I had seen and experienced. We can turn negative experiences into dark actions or we can use them to grow stronger and overcome the challenges in our lives. The choice is ours!
The students who attended culinary school, wanted to find their way and achieve their dream. I am very proud that I had a small part in helping this happen.
The greatest joy in my teaching life came from knowing I affected my students and helped change lives in a very positive way. I can also say with certainty, that I gained as much joy and inspiration from my students as they received from me.
While we will not be having formal CT Chef Association monthly membership meetings during the summer months of July and August, I am inviting you to be an inspiration and share your story with us. Maybe you are on vacation or at work and have a photo, event or place you feel might be a “teaching moment”, share it with us. We have the power to help change people’s lives, one small gesture at a time. We can start with the summer, but I hope it catches on and you will continue to share throughout the year. We can all use a little uplifting and inspiration from time to time.
Pay it forward – give back
BE AN INSPIRATION
Jennifer J. Tessier CEPC