I recently was accepted into Community Kitchen Academy which is a 13 week cooking class. I’m so amazed that I was accepted into honestly. Perhaps it’s all my self doubt of thinking I’ll never get anywhere because of my crippling anxiety or my depression that comes and goes, but I still hoped I would be able to get to a point in my life where I looked forward to the next day. Being in this class gives me the excitement for the next day. What will I learn in class today? This time last year I was very suicidal, but I didn’t want to let friends, coworkers, or managers down because I couldn’t get out of bed. My mental health ended up giving me the gift of a black out from January 2015-September 2015. It’s a different feeling wanting to get out of bed to go to something I’m excited for rather than hoping I’ll die in my sleep. It takes some getting used to.
Class started at 11am on Monday April 25th. I arrived at 10:30am, since my anxiety tells me to arrive places at least 15-30 minutes early to important appointments or I will explode, my blood, guts, skin will be everywhere. That would be a horrible mess for someone to clean up, I’m not going to be that douche canoe who was late to something therefore exploding body pieces all over the place. Can you imagine having to clean that up? That would suck. I’m going to be early, so no chance of exploding.
The class has 11 students including me. There is a lot of diversity as well which is excellent. One of the main reasons I hate living in Vermont is the lack of diversity. When I moved here when I was 5 I remember asking my mom where all the black humans were. Moving from New Jersey to white Vermont was not a fun experience, and yet I can’t just leave because teleportation isn’t a thing yet…plus lack of money.
Since Monday was the first day, Chef stood at the head of the table and talked. Even though he told us we didn’t need to take notes, I did in order to pay attention. Here’s most of my notes. (I was that kid in school who would highlight everything in packets because I found it all important. I still would do horrible on tests, because I couldn’t remember everything or focus.)
- Do rotations in the kitchen 2 people will be in the dish room each day.
- There is a 90%-100% success rate in getting a job in food service after graduating this class.
- Will be certified in ServeSafe.
- “There are so many ways to cut an onion or peel a carrot. In CKA you’ll learn the ‘standard’ way.”
- One week will be working at Sodexo for full days as an internship.
- Learn career ready skills & resume tune ups
- Will use good quality donated food to turn into cooked meals for ourselves and the community. (CKA is located at the food shelf)
- Will be educated on food.
- Everyone in class may be 100% hired before the end of 13 weeks.
- Non judgement class. Allowed to make mistakes.
- Never be afraid. You won’t be yelled at!
- Gordon Ramsey makes for great entertainment, however horrible working conditions. Chef would fire him if Gordon worked for him.
- The food shelf has a food truck, can use it in the community to see if humans react positively to our food.
- The tables in the kitchen have wheels with locks so we can move furniture around.
- Costco and Trader Joes are two examples of the high quality food that is donated to CKA.
- No one sits while someone is working, this is your team.
- Start at 10am sharp. Class is 10-4 Monday-Friday
- Transportation and lunch is covered when on a field trip.
- Prepaid visa $50 gift cards are attendance bonuses.
- More than 5 minutes late means no attendance bonus.
- Since this class gives a lot of information, can’t miss more than 5 classes.
Apparently this class is not easy to get into. Chef saw that each student had a lot to offer for the class, he explained this was why the interview was 20 minutes long. I like to remind myself this daily. I was accepted into a difficult cooking class, even though I have injured myself twice this past week while putting my jeans on. Injured in the sense that there was blood, I had to put bandaids on then sit down so I wouldn’t pass out. I’m a special potato.
Day two of orientation week was another day of Chef talking. He went over common sense with knives, such “don’t catch a falling knife. Let it drop. If it breaks I will buy you a new one. Same goes with hot pans, pots, skillets. Don’t try and catch those if they fall.” We got locks for our lockers that day, so after spending a long time on everyone trying to open their locks, half the class failing to do so, Chef informed us we can bring in our own locks if that is easier. He provided the locks so we wouldn’t have to spend money out of our pockets for this class. I brought in my own lock, which is the same type of lock only it’s green. I brought my own lock so it wouldn’t feel bad that I bought it 3 years ago and never used it. Yup, you read that sentence correctly, I brought in my own lock so an inanimate object wouldn’t feel useless.
The two clocks in the kitchen are analog clocks. Shit. I can’t read analog clocks, I’ve tried to learn, but it never stuck, caused more problems actually. Anger outbursts because I didn’t understand, and others didn’t believe me when I told them I couldn’t read them. I asked Chef if it would be alright if I brought in my own digital clock to put up since I can’t read analog clocks. After being surprised that I couldn’t read an analog clock he didn’t question me, instead he gave me the okay that I can bring in a digital clock. He believed me when I said I can’t read analog clocks! He believed me! Honestly that rarely happens, so when someone believes me it’s a great. I’m a horrible liar so I don’t know why humans would think I would lie about having difficulty with life?
Day three Chef asked what do employers look for then wrote on the board the answers we shouted out.
- Ready to Work
- Good Work Ethics
- Professional Attitude
- Good Hygiene
- Time Management
Chef informed us that not every day will be easy, there will be bad days, but just remember that the next day will be better. In my notes I decided that “tomorrow will be easier” is a better saying for me. The saying ‘it will get better’ or ‘it get’s better’ always leaves a bad taste in my mouth. After hoping life will get better, I’m always disappointed when it doesn’t change. However by changing a word gives the sentence so much more power. Tomorrow will be easier makes sense, I got through today so tomorrow will be easier since I’m closer to my goal than I was yesterday.
Day four started out with Chef telling us about CAYGO. Cleaning As You Go once you finish with one task clean up your area before moving on to the next part of the task. This is what I do when I bake or cook at home. I need things to be clean around me, perhaps this is why I break down when there is a dirty pan left out on the stove since my birth giver didn’t clean up after herself. Why is cleaning up after yourself such a hard concept? Clean the fucking pan so food or grease doesn’t get stuck on it!
Next we learned about all the different types of chefs there are.
- Executive Chef
- Chef de cuisine or Sous Chef
- Station Chef
- Roast Chef
- Garde Manager
- Pastry Chef
- Relief Cook
- Sous Chef
- Line Cook
- Breakfast Cook
When graduating this class I will be at Line Cook/ Prep Cook entry.
That day we also learned about the dish room. What the temperature for each dish sink needs to be, how to operate the dish machine, how to test the sanitizer water, how to handle clean dishes. Air dry them, never towel dry.
On the fifth day of class as well as the end of the first week we received our tool kits!
In our tool kits so far contain:
- 8 inch French knife
- Pairing knife
- Cut Glove
- Vegetable brush
- Name Tag
- Measuring Cups
- Measuring Spoons
- Nail Brush
Chef informed us we will be getting more kitchen tools as well.
I don’t remember which day this happened but Chef informed us that we can’t have dangling jewelry on. No earrings, bracelets, or rings. I wear two opal rings 24/7. One on each of my middle fingers they’re pretty much apart of my body, I can only get them off with a fuckton of lotion. I’m very much dedicated to this class, I knew going into this there would be hurdles I would have to jump over. So before going to bed one night I took my rings off. I woke up in the middle of the night due to a massive panic attack. My birth giver came into my room laid in my bed with me and asked what was wrong. I told her in between sobs that I took my rings off so I could try and get used to it for the class. Only I woke up from my sleep due to a panic attack. I don’t want to get special treatment but I can’t take my rings off without having a panic attack. These rings have been on my fingers since 2007 and 2012. I don’t take them off. Last time I took them off I had a panic attack so intense I sobered up from a pill that was supposed to knock me out. I had to put my rings back on, take an anxiety attack begone pill (I give great names to my meds. I also have nightmare begone pills, since I have nightmares all the time.) After my birth giver left, my two dogs Winnie and Orey stayed. They slept on either side of me, making sure I was secured. Bobo took over my birth giver’s side of the bed in her room. Thanks Bobo for your concern.
I ended up talking to Chef after class telling him that I’m very dedicated to this class, but I need to wear my rings. They’re a security blanket without being a blanket. He informed me that I can keep my rings on, when it gets to the internship week I might need to wear them on a chain around my neck that’s under my uniform, but until then no need to worry. That was such a big relief to hear, he also told me that if my anxiety increases to tell him so we can work it out. I told him that my anxiety makes me show up early to class which is fine, since I can help clean up for class to start.
This class is going to be such a great experience for me. I have a lot of support. I’m really proud how far I’ve come since last year. I don’t really say this or acknowledge this saying but “I deserve this in my life.”