The Making of a Chef is a dramatic narrative of an actual culinary education as it's taught at the most prominent cooking school in the United States, the Culinary Institute of America. The story begins in a class called Skill Development, where students learn to make stocks, to hold a knife, to cut an onion, to make soups and sauces, and to perform basic cooking preparations--how to sauté, panfry, braise, poach, and how to work with vegetables and starches. The story ends in the American Bounty restaurant. But it's not just about learning to cook; it's also about the nature and spirit of being a professional cook and the people who enter the profession.
The most amazing thing,though. It changed who I was, how I thought and moved. I had expected to be a participant in the classes for the purposes of observation. Instead, I got caught up in the battlefield of the kitchen and loved it. Learning to be a professional cook is not like learning to drive a car or build a cabinet. It's like being dropped down into a foreign country. You must become fluent in a new language, reexamine your values, melt into a different culture, and learn a range of new skills that almost always center on the way the physical world works. It's a physical place.
In a good culinary program, you learn how to make a hollandaise, how to butcher meat, wait tables, make an omelet, set a station for service, but you also learn about yourself and the kind of person you are. If you're open to that kind of thing.