The first day at the Culinary was devoted to move it. We had a block of time, from 1pm – 5pm to get all of our stuff into the dorms. My father and I arrived about a half an hour earlier, so we beat the rush and were off to pick up some necessary provisions from my favorite shop Target. After shopping, my dad helped me get all my crap inside then he headed out, so I could settle into my roost. This was when I finally got to meet the mysterious Jackie. Three weeks before the start of school, I received a letter with my dorm assignment and the name of my new roommate. Who I immediately Googled, to no avail. The only information I managed to find suggested that she might possible be a 49 year old English lady… for a brief second, I thought about the “crazy British” lady from my time in San Francisco. Well, upon meeting her she was not British or crazy, so that was a relief and she was over 21. (For all you aspiring CIA students, if you live on campus, the rules about having alcohol in your room are strict, so opt for an older roommate, otherwise your room will be dry.) We have been getting a long well, which is wonderful. We are both studious culinary students.
The rest of move-in day comprised of another tour of the campus, which has been aptly described as the Hogwarts of culinary school; it is magical. The final event of the night was a dorm meeting with our residence assistants (RA’s), which was borderline insulting. As an adult, I understand simple rules like no pets and don’t hang things on the fire sprinklers, but they drove the point home for longer than necessary, but at least they provided us with pizza.
The real fun began during orientation. If I thought the RA meeting was belittling, up next was 48 hours of rules, rules and more rules with some
propaganda school spirit tossed in. Our day started at 6:30am with breakfast, moving from session to session, finalizing all outstanding health forms, financial aid and tuition payment, getting ID cards, fitted for our whites (this was quite exciting) etc…
The biggest highlight of orientation was getting our class schedule. The schedules tend to be divided by AM and PM. I am the type of person that likes to wake up at 6am and get class out of the way, so I was extremely happy that most of my classes were in the morning.
For those of you who are not familiar with how classes are organized at the CIA, they use a progressive learning system, where classes are organized into blocks, which you build upon as your move through the program. A Block is comprised of Math and English Fundamentals and is reserved for people who did poorly on their SAT’s or didn’t have sufficient transfer grades from another college. I started in B Block. The classes are similar to those that you would find in a regular collage, with the exception that we study Gastronomy, Food Safety, Product Knowledge and Culinary Math, plus some students are also require to take English, but I got out of that too… thank god! In hind site, I had the opportunity to take an exam to get out of Culinary Math, which would have left me with only 3 courses and I am kicking myself that I didn’t… I will expand upon that in my next post.
One of the biggest challenges of the first week was getting used to the mandatory and strict dress code. When ever we are in class or dinning halls, we must be dressed in “code”, which means business casual, no jeans, inappropriate length skirts, no tee shirts, sensible shoes, belts, everything ironed and clean… coming from the film and television industry this is a huge departure from me. I am not a slob per se, but I don’t iron. I just don’t do it. I go so far as to not buy clothes that need any special care. So, having to acquire an iron was really torture.
Another blessing and also a burden is our mandatory banquet meals. At least one meal of every day needs to be a 3 course banquet meal, served by our fellow students. I am sure there are those of you who are groaning as to why I would complain, well… don’t get me wrong, I love a sit down meal. The food is pretty good, but the quantity is going to really make me tip the scales. We are always eating! I think I am approaching borderline food fatigue, which means I need to make time to hit the gym and the CIA has some amazing facilities, complete with an Olympic size pool.
Before the end of the week we had the first session in all of our classes. My first class was Introduction to Gastronomy with Professor Cheryl Stanley, she is a certified sommelier and has a similar background as myself, meaning she too grew up in a household that didn’t embrace adventurous eating! Her passion for food and wine was apparent the minute I stepped into the Anheuser Busch Theater. I knew I was lucky to be there. Her enthusiasm was really refreshing. She enjoys teaching and this made me excited about the rest that was to come.