Saturday, August 31, 2013

Hostess with the Mostess

by student blogger Leah
photo credit: Tommy

Ask Tommy if sleeping on my couch with a single sheet and no air conditioning on a summer night makes me the hostess with the mostess, I am guessing he will say that it does not.

Ask Lyndsey if eating toast with the option of six different kinds of jam makes me the hostess with the mostess, I am guessing she will say that it does.

So the verdict is out whether I am the hostess with the mostess, but like with most informal titles---I honestly don’t care.

My friends who I grew up with came to visit last week and reminded me of all the reasons why I love this industry and this school as I shared some of my favorite places and took them to most of the important spots that I encounter on a daily basis. CIA attracts a lot of visitors and tourists on a daily basis but there is something particularly special about those people who love the students and put up with our crazy schedules in order to keep us in their lives.

Cooks have all sorts of negative reputations and connotations that go along with this profession. It’s not a fact, but I read recently that if you are willing to put up with the strange demands of this industry and of cooks, no one will ever love you harder. Especially if you come visit one of us at the CIA. I hope Lyndsey and Tommy would agree.

1st Stop: Roth hall tour

My tour of Roth Hall includes an absent minded stroll through the basement where I took Garde Manger, Meats, and Fish class. I’ll explain what each class was like if my guests are interested, otherwise we just chat while we amble through the underbelly of CIA. The upstairs kitchens are toured and explained because each kitchen offers a clear view of what the students are doing so that there are visual cues to match my oral descriptions. Farq Hall is admired before we make our grand exit onto Anton Plaza, which happens to be one of my favorite views on campus. It’s stunning.

2nd Stop: Kitchen Classrooms
If you’ve played your cards right then there is a chef that you particularly admire who also has a reasonable amount of fondness in return and will let you gawk at their students in the kitchen while they work. This is important because kitchens have a certain amount of energy that can only be experienced firsthand. If the chef is really top notch then they’ll answer all your guests’ questions and maybe even ask a few in return. As students, we have grown somewhat immune to the power of the toque. Visitors are often not immune to these mysterious powers and sometimes they totally dig the opportunity to speak with a chef. I can’t really blame them, chefs can be cool people or at the very least they are interesting to interact with when you can get them to stand still.

3rd Stop: Drink/eat at one of the campus restaurants

Luckily, there is no shortage of public eating options here at CIA. Caterina (restaurant or Al Forno), American Bounty (restaurant or lounge), Bocuse, or Apple Pie Bakery. If the student really loves you then they might just take you to Courtside CafĂ©, our fast-casual student dining option. Tommy and Lyndsey had the pleasure of partaking in Courtside because I could use my meal swipes there, so we didn’t have to shell out additional money for dinner. The menu consists of salads, burgers, chicken sandwiches, and a few specials. We drank hard ciders while we noshed on grilled chicken sandwiches with fig jam, cheese and salads. Courtside offers the kind of atmosphere where you can let your hair down and show off your guests to envying students, so we laughed too loud and shamelessly told embarrassing stories. We were the stars of the dining room.

4th Stop: Meet the family
This isn’t a physical place to visit, but rather a gentle reminder as you travel around campus. Be sure that your guests are constantly fawned over like the heroes that they are for loving you. Introduce them to your friends, the instructor getting a coffee, those students you met at a club meeting that one time, your professors, the dishwashers, staff members whose names you can’t remember, and anyone else willing to shake their hand. Hopefully, you have more graces than I do and you will be able to spark an interesting conversation that builds a bridge between your life and this food world with these two people. Or if you are like me, you will just introduce each person and stare at them both expectantly. I couldn’t stop apologizing for being so awkward, but I’ve mentioned before that I’m no good at introductions and I wasn’t kidding.

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