Friday, December 14, 2012

Micro Blog: Chris Daniels

My blog for this week is not food oriented, but more directed to the great support from all of the faculty and staff at TCA. Recently, I had a family situation that I needed to be a part of. Not knowing the reaction I would get, I was a little nervous to ask my Chefs for help. I sat down with the Dean and told him about my situation and what my schedule was going to be. Not knowing ahead of time how many classes I might have needed to miss or assignments I would not be present for, I was concerned about my education at TCA. After sitting down with many faculty members, we were able to come up with an action plan to keep me on track in a time of need. I want all of my classmates and future students to know that the TCA faculty and staff do have hearts. In the future, instead of missing classes and putting your education in jeopardy, talk to someone first to see if there is something you can do to help your situation. TCA was MORE than accommodating to my situation for which myself and my family are grateful for. This is just another part of The Chefs Academy that reassures me that I made a great decision to continue my education and career goals at this school. All in all, anytime a serious situation comes up in your life, reach out to the faculty. It can make a world of differences.

-Chris Daniels

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Micro Blog: Rico Hawkins

Today is a day of thanks no matter what you don’t have you should be thankful for what you have. As a parent and a full time student and a person that has to work to survive thank GOD for life. The same things that make you smile will make you cry. I love cooking I love going to school I love spending time with my family but I miss my kid’s my son & daughter so my day of thanks was not all it could have been. I say this to you so you can learn from my pain. As we try to learn and go on with our lives thing’s will distract us people will tell us we can’t do it even your friend’s will try to stop you. Some will talk about you behind your back and to your face (We call them haters). Never I mean never let them steal your joy .For when you finish the GOLRY will be yours everything you went through will have been worth the pain and you have now WON even the haters will say I knew you could do it. Could do and would do are two different things. Only the people that care about you, want to see you, me, we, us succeed. Now that we are finish I can spend time with my kids and give thanks that you could learn from my pain. The same thing that makes you cry can make you smile.

Rico Hawkins 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Micro Blog: Carly Hall

How did I get here?  A Journey from Social Work to Culinary Arts   
By: Carly Hall

There is no other place to begin than the beginning….so here we go.  I was in the cool kids “click” in High School. I skirted my way through those 4 years and received my diploma.  I chose to go to the local community college then transfer to ECU because my SAT scores would have been laughed at by any college. Needless to say my 4 years of college turned into 6 but yet again I graduated with a Criminal Justice Degree. Of course I got all the questions “Are you going to be a cop? (no thanks…too dangerous)  Are you going to be a lawyer? (noooo waaaay!  I'm not that smart) You should be a lawyer, you like to debate with people. (What? Really?? ha ha ha)”  Honestly, I knew I wanted to do something in the CJ field but I had no clue what.  So after graduation, I completed about 100 pd107’s (the really long State job applications) and mailed them out along with my resume.  Now the waiting game begins…

So I get my first “real” job with an all-male, medium security prison near Wilmington, NC.  And quickly learned that job was not for me. For the next 7 years I find myself working various jobs in the mental health field and learning everything I can about mental health.  Most jobs were in adolescent group homes and juvenile facilities so I was well versed in juvenile behaviors. I thought I found my calling in the MH field with kids but then was offered a job with the Department of Social Services in the Foster Care Unit.  How could I pass this up?  A government job with benefits, no weekends and paid Holidays. Plus I would be working with the population I knew a lot about, kids! What could be better? Right?  During the next two years I'm involved with some of the happiest, scariest, saddest and most heart breaking situations….day in and day out.  I've seen things that would make most people cry for days or hide under their beds forever.  During my DSS days, I used cooking as my outlet to wash away the horror and sadness of each week.  I’d literally just throw this or that in a pot or pan and see what came out. I started sharing my “meals” with a co-worker and the next thing I knew she was a regular diner at my home.  Then I began to make better meals and share them at lunch with more of my co-workers.  Soon I was making more dishes, sharing recipes and even made food for others to take home.  After several months of cooking, everyone was talking about how good my food was and saying I should go to culinary school.  Yeah, right. Me? Ha!! I barely made it through high school and college….how can I go back to school?  Can I really do it?

Now here I am, present day 2012 and I'm in my first term of Culinary Arts at TCA! From day one I wasn’t sure what to expect and every day is a learning experience. I'm learning to make things “the right way” rather than the way I do at home.  It’s like a whole new world to me. It can be quite intimidating at some points but I made it through my rocky past, I shall soak up all the knowledge I can from the present and build myself a shining future to be proud of.

I wrote all of this and then realized the best way to explain it is through one of Brian Andreas Story People paintings.
The quote reads….. “Don't you hear it? She asked & I shook my head no & then she started to dance & suddenly there was music everywhere & it went on for a very long time & when I finally found words all I could say was thank you.”

Thank you to God, my parents, my family and my friends for having faith in me while I was making life changing choices.
Thank you to everyone who encouraged me to do something different.
Thank you to everyone who answered my 500 questions about culinary schools and how TCA was the best choice.
Thank you to everyone who is encouraging me to keep pushing forward.
Thank you to everyone…thank you so very much.
(insert deep sigh of relief)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Micro Blog: Janice Noguera

Hi, hey, hello, aloha, hola! My name is Janice and I’m from Nicaragua. I’m in my fourth term at TCA. This is exciting for me to write my first blog for TCA. It’s my first time blogging! These past 40 weeks have been so intense for me because it’s brought me to another level of learning on the topic I love-cooking! TCA has become my second house in North Carolina. Sometimes it is hard to believe that I am living my dream right now. I want to thank all the awesome people who work at TCA. It is so complicated to explain everything I’ve been doing in the past 40 weeks, my experiences with my freaking awesome instructors, outside of the classroom at events, and learning new ways to cook. It has just been such an amazing 40 weeks. 

Friday, October 26, 2012

Micro Blog: Jorge Zarate-Arenas

Hello everybody let me share with you the steps in my journey that have brought me here and the people that have inspired me to reach my goals. 
My mom was the first person to teach me the basics of the kitchen when I was little.  She told me I had to learn to cook like her, so that when I was away from home I won’t have to miss my family's cooking. My mom told me that someday I would understand. At first none of that made sense to me because I never imagined myself being away from my family. One day in my adolescence, my uncle Juan, who was known in town for his culinary skills, invited me to a tour of festivals in different towns where he was responsible for preparing the banquet for the parties. That was a beautiful experience, because I like traveling to different towns where his reputation was known and I saw how people loved him and admired his work and dedication. I remember my uncle Juan used to say, “Son, if you learn how to cook, this is a very noble profession, and if you do it from the bottom of your heart, it will open the door to wherever your life takes you”. At that time, I did not understand the meaning of his words. When the time came for me to be away from my family, my mother's words showered on me like rocks because there were occasions when I had no choice but to eat food with bad flavor. It was then when I decided to buy some basic cooking utensils and begin to recreate the dishes of my family, starting with breakfast because it was the easiest thing for me to do.  That's when I discovered that basic skills were inside of me, though I did not have the perfection of my mom or my uncle Juan.  Nevertheless, I felt that I had my family close to me again. With the passage of time, through trial and error, I was able to recreate some of the family recipes-thanks to the teachings of my mom and my uncle Juan.
    Many years later, I found my passion in my career as a scuba instructor in the island of Cozumel.  Through my career of meeting people from various parts of the world, I had opportunities to enrich my palate with new flavors and different styles of food. Since then, I’ve gained a respect and admiration for those behind the scenes delivering dishes with dedication and creativity. Since I came to the United States a few years ago, leaving Cozumel to be with my wife, I have taken job openings which I did not particularly care for.  My wife saw my frustration, and recorded a television program, in which The Chefs Academy advertised and promoted a new cooking school in the area. Watching the program lit the spark in my head, and at the same time, the words of my uncle Juan hit me in the face like a frying pan as well. My wife’s gesture has ended up showing me the way to a new opportunity in my life, where I can dedicate my time to something I’m really passionate about again. So far, I’ve only cooked for my wife, who enjoys and appreciates my efforts in the kitchen, but I hope to gain more experience, knowledge, techniques and different cooking styles soon, and have the opportunity to put my enthusiasm into something tangible for others to enjoy.
    I’ve got my inspiration in the career of cooking thanks to my family from whom I got my first lessons and advice, and also thanks to my wife, who ignited a spark inside of me that’s hard to extinguish now.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Micro Blog: Dylan Holmes

     It was not long ago that I was working my way through a string of jobs that I absolutely detested, but had to continue because I had buried myself in bills unreasonable to pay off with my income. I'm a few months in to my twentieth year of life, I had attended community college for a couple of semesters after high school, but most of my “adult” life has been spent in “the real world.” I was living in an apartment with my girlfriend and another room mate, working full time for only a little over minimum hourly wage. I had rent, utilities, phone service, gas, cable, internet, and blah, blah, blah to pay for. I didn't see attending college again as a feasible option in my situation. Between attending class, working full time, and sleeping, my days would've already been devoured, not to mention any other errands that I may have been responsible for.
     My unfortunate situation carried on for a few months, and things would progressively become worse. I was stressed beyond my control, my relationship was suffering because of it, and we had a rocky living arrangement with our room mate at best. A few months ago my girlfriend and I moved back to our parent's homes, and that took some heat off of both of our lives. I'm happy to say that our relationship continues strong! That took care of a slew of problems, but I still worked far too often at a job that I disliked, and I had virtually no higher education.
     My sister, Kaili Holmes is enrolled to start the October term in PA at The Chef's Academy. I've received extensive information about this school over the past year since she enlisted. She graduated high school a whole year early. I'm incredibly proud of her. She'll be starting the program at only 17! Despite that, I found myself constantly upset that I didn't take a similar path as she has. I was not highly motivated throughout primary school, and my college education before TCA was a joke. I was headed nowhere.
     I found a job at a start up cafe in Wake Forest, and I had the realization that I could enjoy the culinary field. It's hands-on, creative, and I knew it would truly help me push my comfort boundaries. I've struggled with that my entire life. I was ecstatic when my family approved. I emailed Ashley for info about the program, and she replied faster than I could have imagined. In the mere weeks following, I had toured, attended orientation, and had all my financial obligations in check.
     Since class has started, I've been more optimistic about my future than any other time I can recall in my life. I'm looking forward to meeting as many of you as I can! I love the common passion we all have for this career and TCA makes me feel incredibly at peace with myself. More blogs to come, for sure, as I progress in my schooling, but I needed to simply express what The Chef's Academy has done for my life, and my outlook.
            Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.
                                    -Henry Ford

Friday, October 5, 2012

Micro Blog: Raven McNulty

The “Tart” to my Future
By: Raven McNulty

It was June, the sun was blazing, my cap and gown for graduation stared back at me. I was still undecided on college, just weeks before I had made it to the finals for the Top Teen Talent Scholarship competition. I would be competing for a full tuition ride to The Chef’s Academy in Indianapolis, Indiana in just a few days.  Before we get into that lets jump back a few months, I was the caption of my high school culinary team and we had just gotten 5th in the state for the FCCLA culinary competition. My heart had been set on baking since I was 8 and cooking really wasn’t my thing. After intense training and competing at Johnson and Wales I knew baking was my passion. We had been looking into The Chef’s Academy for a while but I still didn’t know if I fit there or in Charlotte. My dad came across the competition and I immediately said no in fear of another let down, not to mention the 10 hour drive. As weeks passed the deadline was approaching and my dad successfully convinced me to enter my Banana Pudding Cupcake just a day before.
Friends and family started voting and before I knew it I was in the lead for votes. Just under me was William Hamilton who constantly out voted me for weeks but my friends weren’t going to let that happen. I came out on top for votes and started preparing for competition. I baked the competition recipe twice a day for a week trying to perfect my skills and let’s just say if anyone wanted a chocolate mousse tart, I was their girl. My dad and I made the 10 hour trip from Cary, NC the day before competition. I spent the trip studying for exams since I still had a week left before graduation and thought about what college decisions I had ahead of me.
I had never been so nervous and excited at the same time. I had never been to Indianapolis and I knew that the competition was going to be a great experience regardless of the outcome. On little to no sleep we arrived at the Indianapolis campus and began to wait for competition to begin. William Hamilton, whom I thought to be my biggest competition, sat at the table next to ours making note cards while I jammed out to “Call Me Maybe.” I knew if I wasn’t having fun then there would be no way for me to win and I hoped listening to my iPod would help others relax too. Sure enough, William went to get his iPod and we were ready to represent NC the best we could. This one day, this one tart, was going to decide how the rest of my life was going to play out. As we got into the kitchen I was feeling so many emotions and with everyone running around it was hard to keep my hands from shaking. I had an hour and a half to perfect and plate my tart with garnish. As the clock ran down I had 30min to get my tart in the oven, remake my mousse and plate. To this day I still don’t know how I managed to stay composed when things went wrong in the kitchen but I’ll never forget the encouraging words of pastry chef Ben Hardy. After time was up I was beyond proud of myself and what I had accomplished, I even made some new friends too.
We sat in the conference room as scholarships and scores were handed out when my heart began to race. Three of us were left and I knew I wanted William or myself to take home first place. First William was called for third place, I was disappointed, he had worked so hard and deserved to be in second. As my name was read for first place I began to tear up. I wasn’t entirely sure what had just happened. Did I really just win a full ride to culinary school? I had made a path to success obtainable without the weight of debt on my shoulders.  The money wasn’t the most important part, after the competition I was congratulated by chefs and I was told my skills/talent outweighed my experience; I knew I was going places. I had made the best decision for me. Through competition I gained more than just a scholarship, I gained confidence, a friend in William, and I guess my friends and family gained a little weight too. Without a doubt William and I are taking on culinary school by storm and let’s just say this won’t be the last time we compete.  After my first week of school at The Chef’s Academy I know this is where I belong. I finally feel like I fit in and more importantly this school is the start to a very successful career.  A few months ago I never would have thought a chocolate mousse tart could change my life.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Micro Blog: Jessica Vittoria

So yesterday was our second annual Triangle Chef Showdown, and it was a great success!! I had so much fun presenting my desserts and networking with people for amazing job opportunities. I was extremely happy to have all my family and friends come out and support me through my education. I was a little emotional too, due to the fact that everywhere I looked parents where there supporting their kids and expressing how proud they were. I know my mom is looking down on me an I know she is proud of me too. During times like yesterday I was very happy to have family support. I know ever since I started at The Chefs Academy my life has changed so much. I just want to take the time now to thank all my chefs and TCA staff for being there for me. I love you all so much. A special thank you to Chef Stolfo for being an inspiration to me and helping me push forward and reach my true potential.  I'm excited to start my internship, and finish out the last two weeks of our kitchen class.
 With a passion for pastry
Jessica Vittoria 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Micro Blog: Jerome Moody Jr.

The other day a classmate asked me, “Where do you get your energy and passion from? To wake up before 5:30am and have a smile on your face and the energy to run miles?”  I am here to tell you my reason for pushing myself and others so hard in the classroom and in life.  In 2005 I lost a friend of mine while serving in Iraq, United States Marine Corporal Christopher D. Leon. This 20 year old Marine is not going to get the chance to turn 21, go to school or marry his high school sweet heart.  He was serving his country and protecting the other Marines in our unit when he was killed.  I push myself because Leon would have wanted me to.  I push myself because he can't follow a dream he once had.  Finally I push myself because I have a goal in my head that nothing will stop me from becoming a great chef and lead others in my kitchen to success.  I come to class each morning with high energy because it spreads to everyone else and that just makes the morning start with a bang.  I have had the pleasure to serve and train with some of the world’s best military men and woman, being in the kitchen is no different.  There is a goal to achieve and a layout to follow to get it done.  High energy and positive attitude will get you far in life no matter what your end goal may be. 

Jerome Moody Jr.
TCA Culinary Student.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Micro Blog: William (Flozell) Hamilton

What could be better than working alongside a well-put together team of chefs and cooks, amidst all the glorious chaos of a bumbling kitchen, turning out orders left and right in a beautifully orchestrated manner? Knowing that no matter what loops may be thrown at you at any time, you and your team will make it happen with a little extra elbow grease. To me, this high energy, focused work environment that I adore couldn’t be replaced by any other “job” or activity of any sort. Cooking is the very passion for which I wish to structure my life on, and it has always been this way.
See, ever since I was “little Will” I couldn’t stay out of the kitchen. My mom caught me once trying to make my own tomato soup… I was standing on my power rangers chair, so that I could reach the counter top, mixing up ketchup and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.  I guess I figured soup + tomatoes = tomato soup.  The logic was sound, but the method was a little off. She graciously explained that my concoction would be yucky and tossed it in the trash; no harm no foul. But there was still a yearning inside of me to make my very own tomato soup, almost as good as the stuff that came out of the white and red cans.
This was all going down around the time I was four or five and I spent almost every day at my Nana and Bop-bop’s house while my mom was at work. Bop-bop is my great uncle Danny’s nick name, and Nana is just my sweet ol’ Nana; never thought of her as anything but my Nana. Bop-bop was huge into the new TV station, “food network,” and if we weren’t out in the yard shooting our bb gun, we were laying on the couch watching Iron chef or Emeril Lagasse.  Eventually hunger set in and we were in the kitchen trying to replicate what we saw on the tube.  We would mix different herbs with our olive oil and dip our fancy-dancy Wonderbread in it, or try our hand in roasting a crispy skin chicken; it didn’t matter, it wasn’t like at home where my soup was quickly discarded. ANYTHING we wanted was ours to create in Bop-bop’s kitchen.
So years went by and our creativity and skills grew as we dabbled in home-cooking together. When I was about 12 he taught me how to make the best steaks in the world on the charcoal grill; mh-m-mhhh those things were on point! Eventually though, I grew too old and too “cool” to spend all my time at Nana and Bop-bop’s. I started hanging out with the neighborhood kids and turning down offers to come spend the night in Garner.  I would still go visit from time to time, but after I had been there for any longer than a day I would make excuses to get a ride home.  What a little brat I had become.
Then one day when I was about fourteen I found out my Bop-bop was diagnosed with leukemia. I called him at the hospital and he insisted I didn’t come see him while he was sick, and that everything would be okay. So I didn’t. Instead of going to see him after his first chemo treatment I decided to go to the mountains with my cousins. While I was playing at the river my mom pulled me over to the side and told me that Bop-bop had a complication at his first treatment and that he probably wasn’t going to make it past the day. We tried to get back to town to say goodbye but when we got to the hospital he had already passed… I was devastated.
He passed on August 17th 2008, exactly 4 years ago from today. Since then I have healed and I am able to look back on his memories and smile rather than cry. I think nothing would have made my Bop-bop more happy than to see me go to culinary school and transform the hobby we used to love doing together into my own career. Ultimately it was his enthusiasm that helped me become comfortable in the kitchen from a young age; and with his comfort always with me, I aspire to become one of the great chefs of the 21st century and have my name printed in these textbooks just as Escoffier has.
-William (Flozell) Hamilton

Monday, August 13, 2012

Micro Blog: Sheba Andrews

“If there is no passion in your life, then have you really lived? Find your passion, whatever it may be. Become it, and let it become you and you will find great things happen FOR you, TO you and BECAUSE of you.”  ~Nhsalan T. Alan Armstrong

August 8, 2011, one year ago, I became a full-time PA student at TCA.  I cannot believe that a year has passed so quickly. My experience here at TCA has been one that I will always remember and cherish for the rest of my life. I’ve had some good and bad days, however I feel that my decision to change my career is one that I will never regret.  I have met some of the most amazing people along this journey and as I prepare to finish my last few terms here at TCA, I will carry a piece of them forever more.  Who would have thought that I would be so happy leaving what some people may believe was a “comfortable” life to pursue a passion? There have been many times over this year that I have asked myself, “Sheba, what were you thinking?” But then I create something for someone and see their eyes light up in delight and I get it… I get it…

Fermenting My Future,
Sheba Andrews

Friday, July 27, 2012

Micro Blog: Catheryne Horton

Good morning everyone! It is Catheryne Horton again. I wanted to express to you how the past 10 weeks (Term 2) have been for me. They have been more difficult than I thought but it has been the best experience that I could ask for. This term I have been learning about sauces, stocks, shellfish, and fish. I never knew of all the different kinds of fish that were in this part of the world. I have learned all about the different ways that you can cook them as well. I have to say that I am very picky when it comes to what I eat but this term has really broadened my palate. I have tasted several different fish that I would have never even considered trying. I have come to like a few more fish than what I used to eat. I have to say that grilled tuna will be on the next thing that I will have to try at home. It was better than I thought that it would be.

This past term we also learned more about proper English and how it should be written. I have to say that there is a lot that I had forgotten about from high school. I also learned how to write a professional resume. It has made a big difference in my career already. I am starting to feel more like a chef than I did before. The school and the instructors have been some of the best that I would consider in the field. The have been a great influence for me.  I hope that I am doing the school proud when I am out and seen wearing my uniform.
Thank you to  The Chef’s Academy for this wonderful opportunity to learn more than I thought that I would ever learn. We are getting ready for a “break week” and will be returning on Aug. 6, 2012 but please continue to follow the website for upcoming events and new terms that are starting. I hope that everyone has a great summer and see you in a week.

Thank you,
Catheryne Horton

Monday, June 25, 2012

Micro Blog: Jessica Vittoria

So this is my fourth blog, and a lot has changed. School (TCA) has been awesome to me. I love TCA more and more every day. It just keeps getting better. So recently we had our last student meeting where we come together as a group and talk about new awards, events, and award out perfect attendance, honor roll and Dean’s list. This term we had a new award called the “Serve to Lead Award.” This award is given to one student once a year and also comes with a $100 scholarship. I am proud to say that I received this award and I was so happy I nearly shed tears. Thank you TCA for this amazing recognition. I have also started my first cake decorator job at dairy queen in Briar Creek. This job is wonderful because I am able to express my creativity and share it with people. I love being a decorator; it is so much fun I love playing with new ideas and patterns too. In addition to that I've also got this week to build a three tiered wedding cake for my dad’s wedding this weekend. I am going to be super busy but it's all cake! I can't wait for my next blog I will upload some pictures for everyone to see. 

With a passion for pastry

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Micro Blog: Melanie Wilkerson

When thinking of what “Student of the Term” means to me, I was having a hard time putting it in to words because it's more than just my accomplishment. I've had so much support that it belongs to those people also. When we think of achievement in our life a lot of time we forget about the people that help us on a daily basis. When I wake up every morning at 5am that means so does the rest of my household when they don't have to, and as we all know every minute of sleep counts. Your family may also sacrifice financially because they want to see your dreams fulfilled. They may have to work one hour longer because you have to work one hour less. When I decided to enroll at The Chefs Academy I had no idea how much it was going to be my life line to my future. I remember the night before my first class I was going through some folders in a closet to look for paper and found a note of encouragement my grandmother gave me about 10 years ago. She would give me little snippets every month for as long as I can remember, but this was the most significant for me because it sums up what “Student of the Term” is for me.

Essence of Life
Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

Choose your words, for they become actions.

Understand your actions, for they become habits.

Study your habits, for they will become your character.

Develop your character, for it becomes your destiny.

by Rocco Shepard

-- Melanie Wilkerson

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Micro Blog: Catheryne Horton

Catheryne Horton’s Blog for The Chef’s Academy

Hello, my name is Catheryne Horton and I am new to the blogs so please bear with me. I know that I will get the hang of writing one soon.

I wanted to let you know that in the past 13 weeks that I have been at the school it has been the most rewarding thing that I have done. I have learned so much that I didn’t realize you needed to know when it comes to cooking.

Yesterday in class we learned about different sauces. Who knew that there were so many and that most of them start by using the same basic sauce? They call this a “leading sauce” or “mother sauce.” You can make the “starter” then you can make 4 or 5 different ones from that.

We have yet another quiz in class today. We had a quiz on Tuesday and I was amazed at myself that I got 100 on mine. That is the first 100 I have ever received on any test or quiz. I was very proud of myself. I hope that I can continue to get those kinds of grades.

Well tomorrow we are back on sauces in class but I know that we are making several more and they are going to be good. I will let you know how it goes.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Micro-Blog Tyler Green

I want to recap a little story of what not to do in order to prevent anyone from touching a hot pot handle.  I think by now some or a lot of us have burned ourselves by accident once or twice. So the event goes when I was making rice pilaf in my second term, I took it out of the convection oven with a towel set it down on the table behind me and took my towel off of the pot handle. When I went to plate the rice my forearm nudged the pan handle and I was burned, along with being startled and giving a small jump which in turn led to rice all over the floor. Case in point: keep the towel on the hot pot handle.
-Tyler Green

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Micro-Blog: Sheba Andrews

Since my last blog, I have experienced a number of great things. Some of those highlights include a term of learning culinary skills with Chef Gephart, learning to create specialty cakes with Chef Stolfo, and being nominated as the pastry Student of the Term.   I must say that being here at TCA has been wonderful thus far.
When I decided to write the blog for this week, I wondered what I could address. My life has recently been full of ups and downs. One day, a fellow “cupcake” said, “Sheba, you always smile. I’ve never seen you get upset or down.” That statement made me feel really good inside. I have to admit that I certainly have days when I am frustrated, sad and stressed; however, I try my best not to allow anything to get me down.  There were numerous points that I would like to blog about, but the analogy that follows truly tops the cake. I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did.
There was a family that would take road trips during the summer. The mother would always clean the refrigerator before leaving and throw away all of the food. Her young son could not understand why his mother would do this. He felt that the food should be just fine until the family returned. One day he decided to ask his mother why she would throw away everything in the refrigerator before their trip. His mother simply replied, “If I don’t and one thing goes bad, it’ll stink up the whole house.”
I had an “ah-ha” moment when I heard this story.  When someone/thing hurts us, we often keep that pain inside of our hearts. The pain/hurt/sadness simply sits there spoiling our whole body and stinking up our disposition. You may be a wonderful person, but no one will be able smell the goodness of you due to the stench from the pain that you are carrying around. We must learn to forgive, let go and clean out our refrigerator!

Fermenting My Future,
Sheba Andrews

Friday, March 9, 2012

Student Micro Blog: Jessica Vittoria

Let's Tailgate!
So yesterday, The Chef's Academy hosted at tailgating event for the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, it was a blas. I love helping arrange and host events for the school. It gives us the ability to network with people in the Raleigh area, and show them what we can do. My pastry class produced 1 dozen cupcakes each for dessert at the event, and we all had fun being able to to express our creativity.  In addition, the culinary classes made barbequed ribs, chicken, and pork. Oh the pork was delicious! I enjoyed being able to talk iwth several people including a gentleman from New Orleans. He was telling me about his hometown and how much he misses the food. I was able to talk to him long enough about where I work. I mentioned the authentic New Orleans style cuisine and he smiled and took down all the information I could give him. Afterward, he told me that he can't wait to come visit us, and even write about our restaurant in his food column. It just goes to show "you never know who you're going to meet." So always be ready to strut your stuff!
With a passion for pastry,
Jessica Vittoria

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Micro Blog: Caroline Laski

Everyone Can Draw. Everyone Can Cook.

When I was in high school I took a drawing class at a local college. The class was taught by an elderly man with a keen eye for form and a passion for teaching. As I sat in a classroom full of people I had never met, unknowing of their skill levels, I began to wonder if taking the class was just going to be a series of humiliations based on my humble attempts. The best advice this old man gave to us, which is something I've never forgotten, is that "everyone can draw". Perhaps it sounds naive when you first hear it, but if you think about it, the message is clear.

I believe cooking can be compared to drawing. From my own experience, I began learning to cook in a tiny college apartment kitchen. At that time, I mostly cooked white rice topped with canned tuna mixed with mayonnaise (speaking of humble attempts!). Growing up, this was a simple and inexpensive dish my Mom invented in our kitchen. In college, I didn't really devote much thought, time, or effort to cooking; I was more focused on doing well in school, spending time with my boyfriend, and having fun.

Time went on and circumstances changed. I began watching The Food Network every day at lunch while I job searched. I can't exactly say why I made this my routine, but the food always looked delicious, and I was excited to learn something new from each episode. It inspired me to try cooking with a different approach.

One day, I just began experimenting. I made mistakes. I accidentally "caught" a falling knife and had to get stitches. I made dishes that my husband kindly ate, but I wouldn't touch with a two-foot pole. I kept trying, and with each attempt I learned and things became easier. I learned what I later found out was officially termed "mise en place" (prepping ahead of time and getting ingredients organized before cooking), and now I can't cook without doing it. Practice paid off, and soon I had the confidence not only to cook a real homemade meal for my in-laws, but also to host multiple-course dinner parties centered around my latest and greatest discoveries I'd been eager to share with friends. Coming to the realization that every book I was reading and everything I enjoyed doing and talking about centered around food finally convinced me to switch fields and set sail in the direction of my dreams.

The moral of this story is many people will tell you that they can't draw or cook, but I believe that everyone can. If I can start with a can of tuna, you can too.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Micro-blog: Jessica Vittoria

Ok……today is my birthday, ‘’Happy Birthday to me.’’ I’ve officially made the 25 mark ! A lot has happened since my last blog. I recently found and obtained a new job at a restaurant in downtown Raleigh called Battistella’s. It is a New Orleans based cuisine, and their food is amazing. I can’t express to you how much I love this job. I have only been there for about a month and I already have my name and a dessert on the menu. Some of the other desserts I prepare include bread pudding, chocolate chess pie, apple tarts, crème brulee, and several others. I have also learned a lot from my chefs at work, Chef Drew Hyams and Chef Brian Battistella (“What up Wilson”). They have both been in this industry for a long time and I enjoy learning from them. I don’t think I would have this awesome job if it wasn’t for The Chefs Academy. I am grateful to everyone at TCA for believing in me. I look forward to sharing what I have learned with many others, and being all I can be. I remember last term when I got to learn how to make crème brulee and I used a blowtorch. I was scared at first, but as usual Chef Stolfo was there to help me. I never thought I would have a job where I’d use one on a daily basis. I know I’ve only been in school for three terms now, but they have been the best three terms so far. I love being in school, and learning anything and everything I can from everyone that is willing to show me. I know I have what it takes to make it in this business. As Walt Disney once said, “All of our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them”(Walter E. Disney). At TCA I am pursuing mine!
With a passion for pastry,

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Super Bowl Recipes from the Chef's At The Chef's Academy Morrisville

Chef Eric's Beef satay and Pickled Jalapeno Buffalo Wings with Green Chili Ranch
Beef Satay
Skirt steak  1#
(or whatever cut you have around does not need to be tender)                                               
Soy sauce 1C
Ginger 1T
Garlic 1t
Scallion sliced  1T
Red onion 2t           
Sweet Chili or chili paste 2T
Parsley, chopped  1T

Place the beef strips in a medium-sized bowl and pour all ingredients in. Let soak for 1 hour. Grill to medium rare and pound flat. Cut the meat into strips as to fit on your squares. Refrigerate until service. Reheat in oven with a dollop of your favorite sauce on each piece of meat. Leave in oven just enough to heat the center. Remove and hit with the chopped parsley, enjoy!

Coffee BBQ Sauce
espresso  1/2 cup brewed
ketchup 1 cup
cider vinegar  1/2 cup
light brown sugar 1/2c
onion, white 1 cup
Garlic  2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
Jalapeno  2ea.
dry mustard 2T
Worcestershire sauce 2T
ground cumin 1T
chili powder 2T

Simmer all together for 20 min over moderate heat, puree and strain then cool.


Pickled Jalapeno Buffalo Wings with Green Chili Ranch

Chicken wings, tips cut off: 18 each
Pickled Jalapeno Juice: 4 cups
If you cannot get enough juice from the pickled jalapeno jar, bulk up the jalapeno juice with white vinegar and pickling spices.
Wing Directions:
Line up the chicken in a large shallow dish, and then poor over the marinade or combine all in a zip lock bag. Make sure all wings are covered by the pickling liquid and place in the fridge for at least one hour. Do not let the wings marinate more than 24 hours as the juice will begin to cook the chicken.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  Oil the rack set of the oven and place a foil-line roasting pan below it.  Arrange the chicken on the rack and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cooked.
If you would prefer to fry the wings, go for it!
Green Chili Ranch:
For every 1 cup ranch, blend ½ cup canned green chilies.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Micro-Blog: Courtney Wimmer

Sometimes we all wish we could fly away from the stresses of life. Sometimes we wish we could escape for just a little bit, and when we get to that place in our head we just need to step back and clear our mind so we have the room to think up there; to know why we are here and what we keep fighting for. My life has changed so much from the time I walked into the doors of The Chef’s Academy to right now.  There was a point when I said, “Why am I doing this to myself? I’m living out of my car, going to work and school.” The “what if’s?” start coming and you start down that road, the dark side of the road. I have met the dark side of the road one too many times but I continue to find out how to turn around. The family that I have made here at The Chef’s Academy is the best thing that has happened to me. Without them I don’t know what I would have done. Being in a small school everyone knows who you are and they care about you. I have one of the best, most caring Chef’s in the world, Chef Stolfo. She took it upon herself to introduce me to a class mate that has gone through what I was going through. Chef Stolfo encouraged me to talk to this student over Christmas break, and when I did, the student said that I could come and live with her until I could get back on my feet again. Then we have this amazing counselor named Leslie that no matter what she is there to help you, even if you are there just to cry. But knowing that there are people that want to see you reach the stars and get to where you are trying to go is amazing. I see that all you have to do is open your eyes and see the people that are placed in your life for a reason to help you. So if I could give you any advice it would be: don’t give up on what ever you want, even if the road you’re on is hard. You are meant to be on it, just find the reason. Don’t give up, just ask …….. I did!  

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Micro-Blog: Pamela Terry

I used to believe I could fly, I was born an “elf child” as the name Pamela was given to me, and yes that’s its meaning. I have held myself back. Yes, I’m 98% the culprit or should I say “was” the culprit. I have always “LOVED” to watch my parents cook and entertain, there was nothing better. I held myself back (without being aware of my scotoma). My dream came true in June 2011 and I started living it in October 2011: the dream of becoming a chef. I no longer “believe“ I can fly, I am flying!!! No one is holding me back, if it is to be, it begins with me. I am performing my rites of passage…..I am free, I am living my affirmations, life is good. Cooking, or should I say, watching my parents cook, was a joy for me. I enjoyed playing outside with my sisters and brothers but when it was time to prepare lunch, dinner (sometimes breakfast before school) I was on a stool looking and trying to help. Most of the time my mom made the meals but when she was working on the train as a chef, my dad did the cooking. My mom had large biscuit pans that were black from lots of use, all types of knives that she sharpened on the back porch near the smoke house.
My family always sits down together for every meal, and we begin every meal with a prayer. The food would look and smell so good it was hard to keep our eyes closed. We always had homemade biscuits, cornbread and cakes. We raised our own chickens and hogs, boy you should see my mom ring the chicken’s neck! She did it so fast and merciful; there was always an audience to watch. Thinking back my moms’ potatoes, rutabagas, and other vegetables were perfect cubes. I did not understand it then but now I know! My dad loves cooking fresh meats and of all things eel and catfish stew. Anything they cooked was excellent and I really never saw them use a recipe book. Can you believe that?
My parents at 89 and 92 still cook and the food is still delicious. I learned and imitated their cooking and kitchen activities, still now I see them back in the day cooking, as I now work in the Chefs Academy Kitchen. Everything I conquer in the kitchen makes them proud. So I am free when I cook. Cooking is a beautiful thing!!
I have other inspirations that include Julia Child, John Gargone, Maya Angelou, Emerald La Gassi, and Paula Dean. Each one of these chefs had to overcome some form of scotoma. Julia Child did not know how to cook and she doubted herself, but with the help and support of her husband she overcame her fear, enrolled in a French all-male cooking school, rose above the adversity and graduated at the top of the class. Mrs. Child never looked back, she continued her career to become a world renown chef, TV personality and author. I was very saddened at her death; I realized that she lives now bigger and better (death could not silence her fame). As I stated earlier, “I am flying.” Well, I could not have accomplished this without the help of my instructors and these treasures we call text books.  All lessons carry us to the edge of excitement and awe with no return to our past habits. Life’s lessons are sometimes hard to digest; however, culinary lessons contain all the ingredients, vitamins, water, tools and directions that one will need to carry on the road to excellence. Will you travel with me on this journey? I have received in one term all of my goals and my visions if I must travel without company. Teamwork is the key to any undertaking in the world today. One of the lessons that have been instilled in us is: You don’t have to like your co-worker but you must work well with them. The world is small and you don’t know who may have to loan you a case of seafood for the next evening rush. The DISC test helped us realize our personalities and who and how we react to others and how we can work out differences amongst each other. The learning tools have been too numerous for me to go into but I am thankful for every word uttered from my “Strategies for Success” class.
My health has been a draw back in my career, I have battled cancer and survived, I have lost my sight for 1 month as well as my ability to walk for greater than a month. I had faith and a positive attitude that carried me through the fires of life that tried to consume me. I held myself back when I said “I don’t think I can drive out to school,” or “I don’t know how I’m going to do it.” I prayed and now I have driven a full term with no accidents or major health setbacks. Lou Tice, the creator of our “Strategies for Success” class is a wonderful person. I give him so much credit for his teachings which are eye opening and we can teach others to get on the road to excellence. My math skills were another drawback but now I feel comfortable that I will master that class. I’m on a roll... I have put plans in effort to bring my career goals to fruition; I am in line with getting my company off the ground. I am to be a traveling chef, doing contract work when I desire and when I am not traveling I am working with diabetic and obese persons bringing them a higher quality of life and happiness. I will help all that I can and if I can’t I’m sure that one of my classmates can fill the order. I love to share and I believe in “each one, teach one”. I could go on and on about the joys and techniques I have acquired but I may bore you and that is not my goal. I am so blessed to have been accepted in this wonderful school that I call my second home. I will work for the first five years to become proficient. I am flying and it’s all because of endurance, patience and a positive attitude and in front of that comes my love for my fellowman.

Happy Holidays,
Pamela Terry

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Micro-Blog: Tony Hudson

Mise en Place, a term that we are all familiar with whether we knew it from past experience or first heard it hear at TCA.  There is no disputing that a proper Mise en Place makes you more efficient and improves your work flow. But what happens when we forget to do our mental Mise en place?
For me mental Mise en place is a combination of physical and mental preparedness for school.   We all have different lives, backgrounds and responsibilities outside of school and it is easy to let life get in the way. My challenge to you my fellow students is to do your mental Mise en Place. Did you study or cram last minute?  Where are your books your pens and paper?  Are you truly prepared for class or is your focus on what you did last night or what you have to do today? Are you participating in class or being disruptive? Is your uniform clean!? Is it ironed like it’s supposed to be? Does your uniform fit properly or are your pants dragging the ground. How about that neckerchief is it tied properly?   Are you clean shaven?  Is your hair pulled back or are you frantically searching for a hair thingy right before class? Are you serious about being here or are you still figuring things out?  Do you carry yourself in a manner that is befitting of a future chef?  What does being a TCA student mean to you? However you may answer these questions I hope that you want to make the most out of your time here. 
Semper Paratus,
Tony Hudson

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Micro-Blog: Terry Rusch

Emulsification at The Chef's Academy
Well I made it through my first term at The Chef’s Academy and I have to say it has been one of the greatest times and experiences in my life.  I have made a lot of friends….well actually I would call them family.  Like a family we don’t all get a long or like each other all the time BUT at the end of the day we are still family.   One term that you learn in cooking or culinary school is emulsion which is defined as “A uniform mixture of two unmixable liquids is called an emulsion”, ie. oil and vinegar. Many times I have made an analogy (corny as it may be) that all of us at The Chef’s Academy are an emulsion also.  An emulsion of people of different backgrounds, attitudes, ideas, life experiences, experiences in the restaurant industry or general kitchen/cooking experience or lack of also.  Like my last blog on how The Chef’s Academy was soooo similar to my experience in Basic Training in the Army, I have realized again how similar it is to the emulsion of people that normally would not know , work, socialize or maybe even like each other normally.  Like in the Army you learn to work together or learn how because you have to, you have to help each other , provide your experiences, take into consideration that people know more and less than you.
Day in and day out we have great days and some days everyone is disputing something, but in the end we are family and work it out and tomorrow is a new day.  Most of my life I have held a grudge, not forget nor forgive but here at TCA I learn more everyday about PEOPLE and the importance of just letting it go.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  You have to forgive as well as sometimes forget just to reach that next level, usually there is nothing personal meant by anything with the arguments or disputes, you just have to see how that other person is viewing the task or situation or explain your vision so see eye to eye.  There is a lot of compromise in life and dealing with people especially in the kitchen, remember that old saying, “If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen”.  This is sooo true in the kitchen at culinary school or in a restaurant when you have a deadline or an order waiting, your job is to get it done fast, efficiently and together as a team.  This is the only way to get through in life and especially in the heat of the kitchen, like in the military you have another soldier watching your back to stay alive and them to keep you alive. 
At the end of a 10 week term being with the same 30 or so people it can get hard. Watch any reality TV show  sometime and you will laugh and think I can deal with someone for a week, a year or whatever without having those dramatic scenes……YOU CAN’T!!!!   But when you go on a Christmas/Holiday break you realize what you are missing and that is your Chef’s Academy family even Uncle Steve who tells the corny jokes or Aunt Martha who is always gossiping about everyone, cousin Andy who is always mad at the world and is always ready for a fight, the mother-in-law or grandfather who is always critical and knows it all, the nagging wife and whiney children, but again at the end of the day “We are Family”.  Sometimes the things that you dislike most in another person are the flaws you actually see in yourself.  I missed all of you during our 11 days away from each other and I wouldn’t change a thing about any of you and looking forward to emulsifying with you guys!