Thursday, May 21, 2015

What I should have packed to come to culinary school


Since I am a transfer student, I had already been through the whole process of coming to college and moving into a dorm before coming to the CIA. Although coming to culinary school is different than a normal university, I will do my best to try to combine the two. When I moved in to CIA, I found myself taking a trip to Target with my parents later that afternoon, buying stuff I hadn’t thought to bring. Hopefully this list will be a helpful guide so move-in day is a breeze. So in no particular order…

I wish I had packed white T-shirts, and black or white socks. Although it sounds simple and yet a little strange, it’s true. When you think you have packed enough white under T-shirts, go to the store and buy another three-pack, and here’s why. Every weekday you will be wearing your white chef uniform, and everything under that must be white, which means no showing of color, and believe me, color can be seen through the uniform. Also for example, academic classes can start at 8:45am, and ending the day with a kitchen class that ends at 6pm, so you want to make sure you have enough white undershirts to last you through the week, or until the next time you do laundry. Also, black or white ankle socks are required with uniform

I wish I had packed a mirror. When I moved into Hudson Hall, I was surprised there was no mirror in the room, and my roommate and I realized very quickly that we didn’t want to have to run down the hall to the restroom every time we wanted to look in a mirror.

Going along with the mirror, I wish I had packed command strips and hooks to hang up that mirror, posters, picture frames, coats, scarves, belts, or anything else that you might want to hang. I had not realized what good of an idea it would have been to bring command strips and command hooks, and I am still finding myself having to go out and buy more.

I wish I had packed a mop of some sort to clean up the floors with. The floors of the dorm halls are tile and can get dirty very easily. My roommate and I both have long dark hair, which shows up very clearly on a shiny white tile floor; and not that we ate like pigs, but crumbs and dirt from the bottom of our shoes would appear on our floor, leading us to mop our floor at least once every two weeks. You don’t need some fancy mop; just a simple Swiffer wet jet is sufficient.

Pack sharpies and some sort of duct tape! When you receive your knife kits, although the excitement is real, it REALLY doesn’t hit you that everyone else received the same knife kits…so just imagine when dishes are being done and 19 other knives that look exactly like yours are being taken to the sinks at around the same time! So what we did was took duct tape (mine is turquoise and my roommate’s is giraffe print; so essentially everyone had a different design duct tape) and wrapped it around the handles of each of our utensils we received in our kits. It becomes SO much easier to tell what knife belongs to whom. Here is where the sharpies come in…First of all, initial every utensil you own. Even though you will have tape, do it anyway, especially the tips (for the baking and pastry students). Also, everything you make, whether it is put in the fridge or oven, needs to be labeled. Everyone else in your class is making the same thing…so what happens when there is a rack of 20 trays of the same kind of cookies…? LABEL EVERYTHING!

I wish I had brought an iron and ironing board. A huge part of your grade here is based on your level of professionalism. I have seen people getting called out during class because of their uniform being wrinkled, and especially for the finals (for kitchen classes, we call it “Practicals” or a “Semester Showcase.” here), we are graded on our professionalism. I found myself using my roommate’s iron and ironing board for the first few weeks. Even with sticking the uniform in the dryer on the “permanent press” setting, it is not enough, and you still want to look the part.

I wish I had my social security card/passport/ID. If you plan on having a job on campus, you need what is called a work card, and to obtain a work card, you just have these forms of ID. You don’t need all three, I chose to bring all three, because I own all three. Once you get a work card, you can get hired to multiple places on campus; for example, I have three jobs. I work at the Student Commons as a facility assistant, in the Hospitality Department as a tour guide, and in the Marketing Department as a blogger. Since I am registered as a Federal Work study, I cannot clock in more than twenty hours, but the jobs here are really good at working with schedules, because they know that school is our number one priority right now.

I wish I had brought spray-n-wash and bleach. Every day we are in the kitchens, wearing whites, and especially working with food, you will get a lot of stains. Although I brought normal detergent for the every day laundry, I never thought to bring spray-n-wash and bleach for my whites. Believe me, this is something you will use.

I wish I had brought containers/plastic wrap/foil. Each day, we swipe for meals, and you receive a good amount of food here. Along with the food you choose to keep with the food in your dorm, I soon figured out that I always had food in my room, and here is why. Our dining services has a program offered to us that we can purchase a container for $5, and if/when we choose to return it, we receive the money back. I did not know that for a few weeks, so within the first week of school, I found myself buying containers, plastic wrap, and foil. PLUS, if you are a baker (such as myself), during fundamentals, Chef will usually allow the students to bring a few things home of what we made that day. (Perks of being a baker!). Plus, I would find myself swiping for a meal, putting the food in the container and saving it for later, which helped if I had somewhere to be or was not hungry at that moment.

I wish I had brought air fresheners/trash bags/paper towels/disinfecting wipes/etc. As silly as it sounds, I wish I had brought more of these and stocked up, so I didn’t have to keep buying them. These materials come in handy when cleaning up the room, especially disinfecting wipes, I believe I use those the most.

Last but certainly not least is sheet protectors. Not so much for your lecture classes, but sheet protectors will come in handy in your kitchen classes. Every day we made something different, and within our course guide that is posted online are the formulas (recipes) and you must have them in class with you. So the first day, I bring my printed recipe, and by the time I left class, there was flour, chocolate, and smudges from working hands on my recipe. I found that it is SO much easier to keep recipes in sheet protectors and organized in a binder, (so if anything gets on the formulas/recipes, just wipe them down at the end of the day).

              Hopefully this helps in packing for culinary school, and best of luck to you! One more thing, please do not make the mistake I did and bring tons of clothes (there is actually stuff in my closet that I have not worn in the four months I have been here), and other stuff you REALLY don't need; so I guess what I am saying is to not over-pack, but pack only what you need! Coordinate with the roommate different room amenities such as the refrigerator (because you can only have one), television, microwave, and things of that nature. Again, best of luck in packing, and don’t get nervous if you forget something, we all have and there is stores up the road. Happy packing!