Sunday, April 15, 2012

Cooking = Passion


This single word is one of the most common ways to describe the love and admiration that people in the culinary industry have for food and cooking. 

And the CIA is no exception. Passion is something that courses through the veins of every student, chef, and food enthisuast that walks through the front doors of Roth Hall.

If you ask any CIA student how they got their start, how they found this "passion" that drove them to the "Harvard of Culinary Schools", they will most likely have an inspiring story describing their life experiences with food that ultimately rendered the passion they possess today.

For me, the urge to attend such an amazing school started when I was in eighth grade, when I visited the CIA on a tour with my Grandmother. Standing beneath Roth Hall's beautiful wooden and stained-glass doors, I soaked up every sight, sound, and scent of the Culinary. Chefs whisked quickly by me on their way to classes, adjusting their knife kits on their shoulders, the smell of chicken stock wafted through the air...was I in culinary Heaven???

Earlier this week, I met a young girl who reminded me a little of myself, and she was filled to the brim with a passion for food. A good friend had invited me to lunch, explaining that we would also be dining with this young lady, whom she had met in New York City while cooking at the Bryant Park Kid's Food Festival. Her father had taken her to the CIA this particular day as a surprise for her birthday.

When I shook hands with "Teen Chef G", otherwise known as Georgia Catanese, I could see that her reactions to the school were quite similar to the ones I had experienced several years ago. 

While we munched on fries and turkey sandwiches at the Apple Pie Bakery, Georgia and her father Joseph, both from Wyckoff, NJ, told me all about Georgia's passion for food. At only 12 years old, Georgia loves to put her spin on any recipe she can get her hands on.

"She'll take a recipe, like jambalaya," explained Joseph, "and instead of chorizo, she'll use chicken sausage, or she'll mix up the spices." Georgia chimed in with a story about a batch of blueberry cupcakes that, she stressed, were made completely from scratch, and had a combination of fresh blueberries, blueberry filling, and homemade frosting. As a baker, I was impressed that Georgia decided to bypass the boxed mixes and create her own. 

 Her creative approach to cooking and her sweet and sassy personality is surely a winning combination, and let me tell you, this girl is strong too. Georgia was born requiring a cochlear implant (she now has one for each ear), meaning that she is severely deaf. Her Mother also passed away from cancer, leaving her as head chef of her household. Despite all of these things, she has overcome so much and, I believe, is on her way to a great culinary future. 

Any 12-year-old who can hold a complex conversation about Food Network chefs Bobby Flay and Rachel Ray, dyes part of her hair pink (she's super proud of it too), and makes sure that you "get her card" and check with her "manager" (or father) so that she can network, is destined for greatness.

Georgia's passion for food is inspiring, and hopefully you are able to see that passion in yourself when you cook. I can't wait to see Georgia at the CIA someday!

So readers, how did your passion for food come about?

I'd love to know!

stay hungry and curious,

Blayre :)

If you're interested in learning more about Teen Chef G,check out her Facebook page or her Youtube channel for more information.

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