Cook Street: The fighting Geoducks of January 08

Being a teacher is about sharing information and inspiring confidence and imagination in your students. The hope is that they will be moved by the subject matter as much as you are.

Fortunately I am not teaching micro economics or accounting. I get to teach students about cooking and all that is involved in the world of food.

I am passionate about this topic. I study it every day. I strive to learn more so that I can teach more. I want to experiment with dishes and take them further. I want my students to feel the same and to feel that with diligence they can even exceed my abilities. Ultimately it is not about me but about them. I believe that good teachers live for the success of the good student and pushes for the success of the lesser student. I have been lucky to have been taught by several inspirational teachers and they have motivated me during my teaching career.

I wanted to do a little photo essay of the first group of students that I have taken from beginning to end at Cook Street.

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Thomas is a great student and a great human being. He is a perfectionist and is never satisfied with what he has produced (redundant no?). He is entering a world were he will find many others who are in the same psychological maelstrom, but that is what makes extraordinary food. This man is funny and a joy to have as a student. He is a sponge for information and it is clear he has a love for France (as any good foodie does). He always comes to my mind first in the group, but only because his family name starts with an A.

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John came to the school as a multiple career changer. He is also a great student and a great human being. He is at the doors of the school come hell or high water at NLT 6:55am every morning regardless of what rotation he is on.

He was quickly dubbed Papa John because of his age and because he’s just so damn lovable. I am always amazed at the level of seriousness he gives to his education and to his critiques of our food everyday (he takes on a very different tone and facial expression). Mostly I enjoy when he lets loose and really laughs (his laugh is honest, sincere and it’s clear that he is happy to be alive and cooking).

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Alicia is an egg I have taken some time to crack. Very bright and dedicated. I would love watching her on Fridays as she studied for her quiz. She would hyper analyze what we might ask. Study every detail of what was lectured and what we handed out. She somewhat figured us out, but I believe that she learned so much more by trying to.

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Kiwi (Justin), was a joy to have in the group. His accent set him apart right away but his great positive attitude endeared him almost as quickly. He is the patron saint of this blog, being a kiwi and the keeper of sheep (what his girlfriend and soon to be wife doesn’t know won’t hurt her). He’s crazy for pavlova and could eat it at every meal.

He became quick friends with Stormin, though you could never tell by their constant repartee.

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Meth Boy (Jason), was a true joy to have in every rotation. Quiet but motivated to tackle this new craft. He jumped into every day with clarity of purpose. He loves to grill. Don’t all men? He has gone way beyond caveman technique now and has truly conquered refined cooking.

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Deb, my “top slot” was a joy to teach. I will never forget the first day when she was on hot line and I handed the members their checklist of daily station set up and clean up. Deb, looked down the list and noticed that I had written “collect male and female spoons” and she asked “what are male and female spoons?” and “I said well isn’t obvious, male spoons are solid and females are slotted. ”

She said, “I don’t like that and the connotation is sexist.” So, I went to my computer and changed the verbiage to “slotted and solid” spoons. From that moment on she became my top slot and any women in charge became the top slot as well.

We laughed hard daily about this.

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This is the only shot I could get of “Sniper.” You see David just got back from Iraq and is still settling into civilian life. He was more used to being on the other end of the lens (or Scope) and so was tough to capture. He was the personal body guard for a top ranking general in Iraq. He talked of target practice on targets a mile away. Can you imagine shooting someone from that far away? The tops of his ears are never exposed…..ever. Has anyone ever seen them? Is he a vulcan?

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Stormin Normin, is truly a character. Take a highly intelligent human being, put him in charge of the intoxication of the masses, mix in a good dose of sarcasm, Irish rebellion and OCD behavior and you have the perfect candidate for a career in food. He is committed or should be to the culinary world. Look at the second picture, he tatooed the likeness of his knife on his calf and calls his knife “big papi” Enuff said……………… Oh BTW died hard Soxs Fan.

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Janet or “Dammit” as she was quickly dubbed by me (from Rocky Horror picture show, and then it just became so easy to say in every circumstance when she made a mistake). She is in the process of opening up a restaurant called “Reds” in Grand Mesa Colorado on the western slope. Hey, I will link your website here if you have one….talk to me. Janet was always respectful e.g. I say “Dammit go get me some shallots” and she says “yes Sir” Reds is going to be a tapas restaurant. Now I have two alumni students whose restaurants I need to visit on the western slope.

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Ricardo was the class clown and someone you could quickly grow to enjoy. Great at characters and accents (he does an awesome Mick Jagger impression). We would feed off each other during the days on that first rotation. Add Thomas to the mix and we were in hysterics most of the time. We did get a lot of great food produced as well. Ricardo was always humble to the food and filled with respect. He has a great future ahead of him. But you need ze discipline und to follow ze rules.
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Das Meghania is a sweetheart who finally got to pursue her dream of going to Culinary School. She was so shy on the first day and was so scared of speaking about herself on the microphone (boy does that change when you get few tequilas in her… just joking unless I can get a witness). She quickly warmed up to the group and blossomed into a fine culinarian. She and her husband are rolling stones. They have been all over the country and beyond following her husband’s career. Maybe it’s your turn now to drag him across the planet of food. Glad that you are able to pursue your dream.

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My personal favorite (yes teachers play favorites, though technically I respect all of you) was Larissa. This young lady is rock solid in every way. Great student, great cook, great individual and she will be one to watch in the future. And I will never forget her because she comes at the end of our student alphabet.

I have nothing but the highest respect for women entering the industry and feel that their presence can only return humanity and RESPECT into male dominated kitchens.

Women are the gatekeepers of the food that we first eat and are more connected to food. How many times have I heard (from men as well as women): “I fell in love with food by my mother’s or grandmother’s apron strings.”

OK, now that is the roster of all the students that made it through culinary part of the program (as far as I know you all made it and of course there is still the final exam) Don’t stress just study……………… which leaves……………….

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There are very few people that Lynn could not have a huge impact on. On the first day she set the tone and laid the groundwork for our understanding of her personality. God plays a huge role in her life and I am not mocking that in the least. I firmly believe that everyone should be free to believe in whatever they feel comfortable with and gets them through the day as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else. Lynn definitely kept me on my toes during lectures.

Lynn cut out of the program in week 10 to take a job offer. She is supposed to come back next year to finish up the course.

Lynn when you come back and finish the rest of the program, I only have one quiz question for you. “how do you spell turd? (inside joke)

Rock on Fighting Geoducks and see you on Monday. Study hard.

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