I’ve searched high and low for information, articles, stories from people who’ve gone to college in Ireland and studied Culinary Arts, there is not much at all to be found! Whether or not it’s the fact there are not many success stories, or people just don’t want to share them, I really don’t know.
I didn’t always want to be a chef. In fact, I didn’t even think about becoming a chef until just over a year ago. Until I fell in love with the restaurant industry, the waves and the rush that comes with a service, pleasing the customer and all that comes with it, I’d worked in various cafés, restaurants over the last couple of years (a good few of them, due to impulsivity/ being slightly socially awkward?!) and I’d seen things I’d take with me on my journey through being a chef, things I would and would not put into place had I ever opened my own business. The seen ethos I loved, an ethos I didn’t love so much, attitudes, operating procedures, and the rest.
It was exciting, scary, fun. My first day of college. I’d failed my first leaving cert, returned to do it, went onto a PLC course and fluked my way into Culinary Arts from decent exam results! And you can bet I am grateful to be there and appreciate the opportunity more than the next messer beside me.
Our entire class of 30 something was split into two groups for the cookery classes. The way our week works is that we have three practical classes a week, one of them being Pastry, another Culinary Operations where we do larder work, basics like eggs, meat, patés, sauces, then we have the most exciting one, lunch service in Culinary Skills class on a Thursday morning, where we each have our own sections and it’s the closest thing to the real deal! We cook a 3-course lunch menu and the hospitality students serve. From the get-go it was all hands on deck, straight in, starting from the bottom. You’d be surprised at what you think you know yet don’t.
Early days in the production kitchen! Breadcrumbed Plaice and a potato croquette served with hollandaise sauce and lemon wedges.
The ‘Culinary Floor’ of our building is kind of like something out of a movie for me, full of large kitchens and students of all years, ages, persons only permitted in full uniform into the halls via the changing rooms. It was all so uniformed, so ‘set in its ways’. Me being a messy natured person, I am starting to love routine (slowly, but surely). I enjoy things having their place, and following a trail of steps in order to achieve something so exact.
It was a mix of boys and girls young men and women (Oooh!) and we all huddled into a classroom on our first day to have lots of information about the two years ahead thrown at us, with our well-known TV chef, and lecturer Edward Hayden. The weeks ahead were so close yet so far away.
4 weeks on we are all settling in nicely, everything’s coming up a notch, the uniform is going on faster, the goings getting easier! We are all really starting to gel as a group, of course, there are still people you work well with, and others you don’t work so well with, but that’s the industry.
We also have the theory side, a Food Safety & Culinary Science class, which is getting more interesting as the weeks go on.
All in all, it’s tiring, but very interesting, and I keep having to remind myself that I am a ”chef” or…will be.
And that’s my “Dear Diary” about being a Culinary Arts student in Ireland – for now!