World Chefs: learning the ropes at top U.S. chef school

Tue Jul 19, 2011 8:31am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Like many people who love to cook, Jonathan Dixon had long dreamed of going to culinary school for training. Unlike many, he actually did it.

"Beaten, Seared and Sauced" is the story of his two years at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and how he went from a passionate, but far from professional cook, to working as an intern in a noted New York restaurant and, finally, to graduation and a foray into cooking for private clients.

In between came intensive training in knife skills, fish identification, classic cooking techniques like sauteing, and mad dashes through regional cuisines including Asian.

Older than most of his classmates from the start at age 38, Dixon spoke with Reuters about his immersion in cooking, what he learned about food, and what he learned about himself.

Q: You've been away from the experience for about a year, how do you view it now?

A: "I remember my father telling me about losing people when they died, how you forget all the bad stuff, and then it's just the good memories. School is a little bit like that. I look back on it now with a pretty rosy view, but at the time ... that's one reason I'm glad I was writing the book as I went, because there were warts and there were some really, really rough periods. It might be harder, looking back now, to get the nuances of the more negative stuff.

"I look back on the experience as this incredibly intense two years. It just never let up. You never got a break, there wasn't spring break, there wasn't a big semester break around Christmas, you just kept going and going and going."

Q: What were the highs and the lows of training?   Continued...