Friday, December 3, 2010

How is CPCC's culinary school like your house?

Central Piedmont Community College issued an open invitation to the Charlotte media Thursday for a holiday reception at the Van Every Culinary Arts Building. It was one of the rare times when TV, indie and old-fashioned daily newspaper folks banged elbows.

Between multiple visits to the garde manger class's table (cold food, like housemade sausages, pates and very nice duck confit on little toasts) and plates of Beef Rib Lollipops and Braised Pork Belly on Stone-Ground Grits, it occurred to me that when CPCC has a holiday party, it's a lot like what happens at your house:

First, everybody hangs out in the kitchen. CPCC is justifiably proud of the spiffy, still-sorta-new culinary building, and they're smart enough to know that everybody wants to be where the action is. So all the food is put out in stations around the kitchen. It's not only practical - have the food where the stoves are -- but it makes the whole thing feel fun and relaxed, rather than the usual stiff work party.

Second, everybody feels like they're being graded when people eat your cooking. In this case, students actually were: Prepping and serving food for the reception was part of their final exam. But they watch and take personally every reaction to every bite. Just like you do when you cook for a party.

Thanks again to department head Bob Boll, all the student cooks and very efficient student waiters, and especially to chef-instructors Jim Bowen and Pam Roberts. I spend a lot of time at Charlotte's four culinary schools -- Johnson & Wales, CPCC, Art Institute and Community Culinary School of Charlotte. And what blows me away every time isn't just the food. It's how much the chef-instructors love those students.


Alison said...

Yes, I love your conclusion. It takes a unique person to love & respect the food, thrive in the stressful environment of a professional kitchen and still be patient enough to get all that knowledge and passion into the students' minds and hearts!