Student Chefs, Back to School!
Back to School!
My birthday is August 15th, and while I love my birthday, the one thing it has always signified is the end of summer and the start of another school year. To be honest I actually like school, for the most part. I might even go as far as to say I enjoy certain aspects of it.
This September is very special to me, much like a September several years back, when I started my first culinary school. Everything was new and exciting! Knife kits, uniforms, four-inch thick school books, and the daily struggle of trying to keep my waist long curly hair under my hat. Looking back to that September, one seemingly insignificant choice at the time would turn out to be one of the most significant choices of my culinary career. I’m sure most of us are familiar with the saying “hindsight is 20/20”.
Amidst all the chaos, excitement, and over-inflated egos of a building full of chefs and inspiring chefs, one administrator made it a point to constantly praise the significance and importance of the ACF. For the majority of us students we had no idea what the ACF was. Then I got my hands on Sizzle magazine! Pages full of the latest culinary techniques, competitions, awards, certifications, and everything a culinary newbie could want! I still didn’t know exactly what this ACF was but I knew I had to be a part of it. By the end of that September, I joined. I enjoyed going to the monthly meetings, and I still remember that following spring the CT Chefs took a bus trip to the Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center. Amazing!
So, you’re probably asking yourself “what is the career changing choice” she mentioned. Well, about a year and a half after graduating my first culinary school, I was in an accident and suffered several serious injuries. I had spent years studying to be a chef, in multiple countries, and after the accident, I couldn’t even hold a knife. I stayed positive for a while, but after surgeries, injections, and more rounds of physical and occupational therapy than I can remember, even my positive attitude and determination was fading fast. Nevertheless, one thing that always gave me hope was reading the Chef Thymes Newsletter every month. It made me feel like I was still part of the organization and still a chef.
Being a member of the ACF-CT Chefs Association gave me the access to the culinary world that kept me in the game even when my body was out. My right arm and shoulder were in an immobilizer but I still contacted one of my former chef administrators who previously organized the certifications in the area and he eagerly welcomed me to come and observe. Attending a seminar at Johnson and Wales University for the sole reason of earning some continuing education credits led me to switching schools and enrolling in their Culinary Nutrition Program.
Fast forward to today and now I am on the board of the CT Chefs Association. I would say long story short but at over 600 words that’s not going to happen. The message I would like everyone to take away from what I’ve written is that you never know where life and your career will take you but surrounding yourself with good, positive people who will encourage you is always a good idea. I know what the ACF has meant to me and I know what being a member can do for you and for your career. It truly is an honor to lead the Student Chefs chapter of the CT Chefs Association. To give back to the organization that has done so much for me. To help teach, lead, and guide the next generation of culinary professionals. To see the excitement in their eyes that I can so easily remember in my own not so long ago.
I hope to see all of you Student & Junior Culinarians at our next meeting! 5:30!
Catherine Liscio, CC