Prepping for Culinary School

My very frugal knife haul for culinary school

I started pursuing a culinary degree when I was in my 20’s, but unfortunately, I had to leave school in order to do some adulting.  Children needed to be cared for, bills had to be paid. It was an easy choice to make.

One of the benefits of my current job is that employees are eligible to attend school for free.  Now that the kids are all grown up I needed to find something I wanted to do for me.  So, pursuing a degree in something I love was, of course, the natural thing to do.

If you’ve ever thought about seeking a culinary degree then you know there are a lot of schools to choose from, different types of programs, and people citing the pros and cons of why you should, or shouldn’t attend.  I have always wanted to be a chef, not necessarily to work in a professional kitchen at a restaurant, but because I have a passion for food, which my love handles can attest to. I also love to entertain. The thought of being in a kitchen all day working for someone else doesn’t appeal to me at the slightest. Unless, of course, that someone else is Gordon Ramsay, I mean, let’s face it, the man is sexy.

During winter break, Chef emailed us a list of tools we would need for the Quantity Food Production I class.  I have spent the past two weeks stalking the Sur La Table and Williams Sonoma websites in the hopes that I would have an excuse to walk through their doors.  I secretly wait for the day my kids move out so I can buy that cookware and cutlery set of my dreams. You know the one that they won’t scratch up, or somehow ends up with mysterious burnt on food.

I’ve been looking forward to this class for a long time because I finally get to work in a kitchen. Doing dishes is not one of my favorite things to do, but definitely worth the price of learning from an amazing Chef with a background at Le Cordon Bleu. Not too shabby, huh? I’m a pretty damn good cook, but don’t ask me how much of anything goes into what I make. Portioning and plating are two of the things I’m hoping to learn more about. At my house, I cook according to how much food I know everyone will eat and I always try to make sure everyone has leftovers to take to work the next day.

I purchased my uniforms online, but I’m not including the link because I was very disappointed with the quality and material.  The material was cheap and thin. Monday is the first day of class, and when I tried on my whites I looked like a total dork. Culinary uniform manufacturers, please work on a curvy style for women.  It would be nice to wear a chef coat and pants with some shape to it instead of looking like I’m wearing a tent, and feeling uncomfortable as hell.  I’m not asking for hounds tooth print yoga pants, well maybe! But you could make something that fits a little nicer. I ended up buying a full set at our college bookstore, which was a bit more expensive. The material felt thick enough to protect me from a spill, and the quality was a lot better than I expected.

One of the things I did to prep for the class was I dug into my kitchen cabinets, drawers, through the endless gadgets and doohickeys, and thingies I’ve collected to see if I could find any items from my list already in my possession. A friend had given me a knife set years ago, which I’ve only used a couple of times. I didn’t want my kids to know they even existed. 

I think I’m off to a good start, but I still have a few things I’ll need.  I’m opting to use a knife roll bag instead of my Stanley toolbox because of the size of our storage compartments in the kitchen. I purchased this knife roll bag on Amazon. My knives don’t have guards, but I made my own using guidance from this YouTube video.

I’ve stopped at every local home goods store in my area, and I was able to find these knives.  Believe it or not, I’ve scored the best deals at Ross, Marshall’s and At Home stores.  There’s a list of knives and tools we will be using, but after paying the lab fee and books, these were the best I could do. As I add more items I will post them here.

I’ll be all bandaged up for the first day of class on Monday because of course, I sliced most of the tip off my finger with the mandoline slicer. Ugh! It’s what I do. There’s a reason my kids keep score on how many days I’ve had without incident. No, seriously. Well, it’ s time to get start work for the day.

Well, it’s time to start the grind at my day job. But before I leave….

Have you decided to go back to school, or pursue something new? If so, what?

The Broad