Monday, 7 July 2008
End of Act One
My edible life seems to be taking a slightly surreal turn. On the carpet before me, two elements of my immediate future have collided and the realisation of the challenges ahead are beginning to hit home. My fellow initiates, some more confident than others, have started to unwrap what they have before them. We groan as the first struggles with sticky treacle. We wince at the sight and smell of pesto. We envy the guy with nothing at all. Then it's my turn. Nervously, cluelessly, I fumble with the tabs and open up the nappy. It's flecked with brown and yellow and my mind wanders off to the 'name the ingredient' tray of our theory exam. "Dijon mustard", says the NCT teacher, and despite my desire to inform her that it's wholegrain not dijon, I keep schtum. I may have been able to cut the mustard in cooking theory, but when it comes to baby poo, I really do know jack.
These are moments you never forget. Seminal, life-changing moments that herald a new beginning. The sight of five grown men, armed with cotton wool, delicately wiping condiments off a plastic baby's bottom in front of their partners. The pride that comes with success. The confidence to take on the future, no matter how scared we really are.
The end of NCT classes has coincided with the end of the Leiths Diploma and I now feel comfortable that I will know what to do in the event of contractions starting and a hollandaise splitting. Hopefully they won't happen at the same time as in a state of panic I'll probably throw ice cold water at Emilie and rush the hollandaise to hospital. Unfortunately we never covered placenta cooking in class but I'm thinking pan-fried with a sauce robert could turn into a Leiths classic and a good choice for next year's advanced practical. This year, my practical actually went ok, far from perfect but no disasters either.
Re-reading the first post of this blog from the 7th September last year, I realise just how much my life has changed. Making the decision to walk away from a successful, well-paid career was not an easy thing to do and I entered culinary school not really knowing if I could cook, just sure of the fact that it was something I loved to do. I was scared that cooking every day might somehow take the sheen off a favorite hobby, but thankfully, after this first chapter, I can say that it has done the opposite. I am fired up and ready for the next stage in my new career and excited about what the future may bring. In true, blubbing, Gwyneth Paltrow style, I do need to thank a lot of people for their amazing support over the past year. To the tasters, teachers, investors, listeners, classmates, and to everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on this blog. You know who you are. It came as a huge surprise to be voted Student of the Year 2008 by the teaching staff at Leiths but I know I would never have made it without your constant encouragement along the way. I hope you'll stay with me for part two of the story!