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The Chronicles of Jerry Potter: ApĂ©ritif

CIA Greystone

It has officially been 2 weeks now since I’ve begun my journey to chefdom here at the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone in St. Helena. Being back in school again certainly takes a little getting used to, but it’s nice to not be bent over in front of The Man 10 hours a day. Residing in Napa Valley is also quite a change of pace from the hustle of Los Angeles. There is nothing out here besides the school, vineyards, restaurants, and more vineyards.

Greystone looks like Hogwarts School of Wizardry minus the super serial uniforms and wand rubbing. Class is at 7am. I live in Napa which equates to a 25 minute/17 mile commute each way and waking up at the ass crack of dawn. Prior to moving here, getting up at such an unholy hour was only excusable for fishing. Tuition ain’t cheap but thankfully it includes my chef’s kit (knives, tongs, peeler, etc.), 5 sets of chef’s coats and pants, knife roll, and books. Having gone through undergrad at two different universities (Boston University and UC Santa Barbara) I can say that this is not standard practice. Most undergrad programs will charge you for breathing on campus.

Standards are very high here and they adhere to policy like molasses on fly paper. The first day of class I got sent out of the room to go shave. If you don’t know, most Asians are pretty much naturally hairless. The cheeks on my face contend with those on the business end of a newborn baby. That said, I was shocked and rather put off by the ordeal. To sweeten the deal, I also left my name tag in my car (yes, we’re required to wear name tags the first 3 weeks) and was sent out a second time to retrieve it. Off to a roaring start and we haven’t even picked up a knife yet.

The first three weeks consist of ZERO kitchen time and 2 classes: Culinary Mathematics and Introduction to Gastronomy. The latter obviously being the more interesting of the two. After next week we begin our Meat Fabrication and Identification course, which I am very excited for. This is going to be butchering, cleaning, and identifying different cuts of meat from various animals. This also means that we finally get some QT with our knife sets in the kitchen. The Chefs here are very well seasoned – pun intended – most having worked in the industry for many years and/or owned a restaurant at some point in time. As I finish this first segment, I look forward to getting in the kitchen and learning as much as possible. Stay tuned for another update once the more interesting stuff kicks in…