How the culinary world affected my teaching (Part 1)

Chef

Here’s a little story about me: after completing the second year of my music degree, I decided to pursue my other love, dream and passion: food. I grew tired of scholastic deadlines. Essays, exams and assignments loomed over me, like a storm cloud waiting to burst. So I took a break and started to work in a kitchen. I learned so much from this experience. I came back to university as a changed person and also as a better student (and teacher). I hope to share with you some of the memories I have of that world in a series of blog posts. This is just the first one.

Entering culinary school was an eye-opener. It made me appreciate the way we learn things. When I was in school, I was the smart kid. I was that snotty high achiever who won awards every week. I hated the ‘dumb’ kids – they annoyed me. They were slow. They demanded a lot of the teacher’s attention and they were contributing to my boredom in class. When I went to culinary school, everybody was a first year apprentice. Everybody except me… I never worked in a commercial kitchen before. I was the slow one, the stupid one – the one that drove everybody else nuts and bananas (isn’t it funny that the synonyms for crazy are food-related). Being in this position has made me incredibly patient and empathetic to my students who don’t get things right the first time (or for the second, third or fourth time!). If a student doesn’t get something, I am never ever frustrated. They are not dumb. If they don’t understand something then it is my responsibility as a teacher to fix it. It helps to struggle at something, it puts you in the shoes of the student and makes you think about alternate ways to teach and explain things.

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