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Grandma's Cooking: Just the Beginning of Chef School

Culinary Skill: Bringing History to the Table

Many of our mothers seem to have some recipe that has earned them family fame. One of my grandmothers made salmon croquettes; the other made a sour cream pound cake to die for. My mother-in-law makes chili her husband croons over, and I can still remember the way my mother's fingers looked as she pinched the edges of a pie crust before pouring in the bubbling hot pecans.

A Quest for the New Chef

These days, statistics show that more people than ever are eating out instead of cooking for themselves. Just a few weeks ago, I read an essay that began "Way back, a long time ago when people actually cooked..." This creates an interesting opportunity for chef school students: how will the chefs of tomorrow bring the same kinds of history and tradition to their tables?

Personal History Going Public

I think the answer is pretty simple. Why not simply use your own history? You might start by spending some time thinking about your family's relationship to food, and asking which recipes, names, and rituals you could bring to your work as you carve out your style of culinary art. "Aunt Lulu's Blueberry Pie" is definitely more interesting than just "blueberry pie."

Chef school is a place to learn all kinds of things about working in the world of culinary arts. While you're there, you might as well take the time to really explore your own history with food, and mine it to see what you can bring to the table.