Chef Chronicles: Back-to-School Edition

By Elyse Inamine Posted September 19, 2016

5 chefs recall great and extremely terrible moments of culinary school.

School is now fully in session. To mark the occasion, we've collected five culinary school memories from five of our favorite chefs. Read on to learn why you should always keep yogurt on hand if you're slicing jalapeños.

A for Acing It

“One of the first times I cooked Japanese-style Western food is when I made a Japanese hollandaise sauce for a final and crushed it. It awakened something in me. It made me realize how I can use the ingredients and techniques I grew up with as the son of a Japanese sushi chef in the cooking I wanted to do—which is what I'm doing today.” —Rick Horiike, executive chef at Ganso Yaki

B for Blood, Sweat and Beating by Hand

"I went to two culinary schools: the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and Le Cordon Bleu in Paris. At the CIA, we learned how to make batch sizes for busy restaurants with the most current equipment. At LCB, we made everything without any machines. One of the instructors there would whip egg whites and exclaim, 'My name is not KitchenAid, my name is Hobart!' I still prefer to whip cream by hand." —Abby Swain, pastry chef at Fowler & Wells

C for Career Changes

"My original plan was actually to go to medical school. But at my first med school interview, I had to explain why they should admit me and why I wanted to become a doctor. Trying to put to words my plan made me realize that what I was really passionate about and what I genuinely wanted to do was cook. After, I went straight to my parents and confessed that I wanted to become a chef, and all they asked was that I pursue that with as much dedication and drive as I would have used to become a doctor. It's still some of the best advice I've ever received."Brian Landry, executive chef at Borgne

D for Dessert Disaster

“One of my silliest mistakes was testing out a no-fail microwave brittle recipe for my plated dessert class. It caught on fire and smoked out the whole second floor of the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in California.” —Lisa White, pastry chef at Willa Jean

F for Fiery

As pepper season comes to a close in Chicago, I am always fondly reminded of my old classmate Tommy. One day, he was slicing jalapeños with such bravado—until he began sweating and then wiped his brow with his hand. For the remainder of the class, he sat in the corner with a tub of yogurt to apply as needed. Tommy recovered, covered in yogurt and embarrassment. Lesson learned!” —Chris Pandel, executive chef at Swift & Sons

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