What one piece of advice would you give to new culinary arts students?
Don't be afraid to try new dishes and ingredients. Know your flavors. Taste as you go . Remember to keep your cooking and prep area clean at all times and wash your hands constantly.
Be very careful with knives and always, always, always wash your hands. When I had culinary arts, I couldn't tell you how many people would cut their fingers or hands when dealing with knives especially when someone throws it into the sink for washing and people don't realize it's there.
Also, always keep your work station clean especially when working with meat. You can easily get food poisoning or pink eye when dealing with raw chicken so make it a great habit of washing your hands constantly (kind of like a doctor).
Don't be afraid to ask questions, no matter how stupid they may sound. Chances are there are others in your class that want to know too and are too afraid to ask. One day we were in the kitchen and our instructor realized we were out of butter, he grabbed two quarts of heavy cream thrust it into the hands of the nearest student and said "get me some butter" and then proceeded with the cooking demo. It took the instructor a few minutes to realize the student had stood there horrified with the cream. He asked "What's wrong?" the student asked "How do I make butter with this?"
The instructor then realized the student had no clue you could make butter from heavy cream. The instructor then asked who else did not know you could make butter from cream? Four other people raised their hands. He looked shocked at first but then smiled and proceeded to demonstrate how butter was made from cream. So don't be afraid, be fearless and use and abuse your instructors for information. You paid for them, use their knowledge and experience. Don't be afriad to challenge them either. My instructor liked that.
If you want to make inroads, and gain invaluable experience in the biz, volunteer your services for free on weekends or a few hours a night at a restaurant you would like to see yourself in. No place will turn down free help and you can use that on your resume.
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