As a cook and personal chef with many years of experience, Aaron Lande decided to pursue a formal education in culinary arts. He shares his student experience below and shares the importance of gaining experience through feedback from your culinary arts instructors.
“I chose Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts because of the hands-on environment, attention to detail and the reputation of the school. My education far exceeded my expectations. The Chef Educators really care about teaching and are open to working with any student that wants help. My class was made up of people with all levels of skill and from all parts of the country. This really enhanced the experienced because we learned from each other. My advice: Go to other Chef Educators to get feedback on your dishes. Every Chef Educator has a different palate, and this will give you honest feedback from a number of different people. Have fun!”
Mike Noble has celiac disease and came to culinary school to learn a little more about gluten-free cooking.
“Coming to Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts I learned a lot. It is hands-on. That is the best experience you could ever get, hands-on, and the farm-to-table part. I enjoyed working out on the farm. Learning about where our food comes from and being able to participate. And the wine academy; I was at a zero knowledge of wine before I came here and now I am at about a three. I’m actually celiac so being gluten-free put the desire to come to Escoffier. I wanted to learn a little more cooking, like how to make pasta and fresh bread that is gluten-free. I learned both ways of cooking (regular and gluten-free) and got to teach my classmates some gluten-free dishes, like pasta.”
Tressa Hodros made her transition from Navy intelligence to culinary arts.
“I was in the Navy for six years. It’s not as cool as it sounds; I started to bring cupcakes to brighten up the day for my co-workers. It made people so happy, and they would line up at my desk. I decided I wanted to make people that happy all the time. Coming from the military where everything is so regimented, I had a bit of culture shock. It can be so chaotic in the kitchen. My favorite unit was Asia week. There wasn't any Korean food in the curriculum, so I decided to put it on the menu myself. No one, including my Chef Educator, had any experience with Korean culture or cuisine, and I was very exited to have the opportunity to introduce my friends to it. Culinary Arts wasn’t just teaching you how to cook, but how to be a chef.”
My name is Tom Babler. And where are you from originally? I’m from Minnesota. I decided it was time to make a career change. I was a truck driver for seventeen years. I was in the trucking industry altogether, as a mechanic and parts delivery guy for another three years, so, a total of twenty years in the transportation industry. I got bit in the butt by the corporate dog twice and I decided it was time for me to do what I was passionate about, make a change. I always wanted to be a chef, so I started looking online one night and you guys were the first phone call I got the next morning. There’s a longer story to that, but, I don’t want to get into it. You guys were the first call.
Farm-to-Table is what really drew me to this school. Saddest thing is I left my wife on Valentine’s Day to come out here. My two dogs, two cats, and my wife are still back in Minnesota. It’s kinda hard, but it’s a sacrifice I gotta make and she’s, she’s on board 100% and I tell you what, if there’s a butt kicker in my life, it’s her. She pushes me. It’s good. It’s awesome. It’s good to have a support system. It’s good to have a rock like that in your life. What an experience here, with Chef Mark. He… the first day I met him, he said, ‘I’m not your teacher. I’m your coach, I’m your mentor. If you have any problems, I don’t care if it’s here, it’s at home, at work, call me. I’ll get you the help you need if I can’t help you.’ And to have somebody like that, that will help us and respect us in the way that he does, it makes it so much easier to learn. And for me, I think I told you this: I’m 39 years old. You know, and for an almost forty year-old high school dropout – I got a GED – I hated school, never wanted to go back to school, I never seen myself as a college student. I’m an honors student, I’m an honors student here and I’m so happy. It’s awesome. I love it. That’s amazing. It’s great. And I owe it all to Chef Mark.
In general, how’s the program? I really enjoyed this program, because, to me, it’s not like we’re an assembly line, you’re trying to pump out students. You guys are there, you care. What’s next? What now? Well, I have the Farm-to-Table culmination dinner today, which I’m a team chef of. It’s a very important day in my life. Tomorrow’s the final exam, last day with Chef Mark. It’s going to be a little tough. Then we move to the farms, which is going to be great. That’s what I came here for. And then externship. Yeah, you guys are going to the farm at a great time, it’s harvest season. You get to pick, pick, pick, pick, pick, it’s going to be awesome. He says, ‘No more picking weeds, it’s all about picking fruits and vegetables.’ It’s going to be awesome, it’s great. I can’t wait. It’s time for me to move on with my life, you know, my wife and I, go to bigger and better things.
That’s great. Well, we’re honored that you chose us at Auguste Escoffier. I know, you and I had that conversation and I thought your story, you know, going back to school, changing life directions, and we see that a lot. But, it seems to have really changed your life for the better. So, if you have one thing to say to any future Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts students, what would it be? Make the sacrifice, follow your dreams. Don’t let your dreams die. That’s all I can say.
Tom Babler, a high school dropout, walked away after 17 years in the corporate world to pursue his dreams of becoming a chef.
“Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is above and beyond what I expected. I thought I was going to walk in here and know a lot of stuff, and believe me, I went home with my tail between my legs quite a few nights. It's a really great experience learning so much. I am an Honors student in culinary school, and I owe it all to my Chef Educator. He is incredible; he is honest, respectful. He is not our teacher, he is our coach; he is our mentor. The first thing he said to us is that there is not a stupid question, ever. Make that sacrifice; don’t let your dreams die. I almost did. Why would you go through life wondering, ‘What if?’ Take that chance to just see what happens; it is so worth it. And this is coming from someone who absolutely hated school when I was in high school; culinary school is by far one of the best things I have ever done in my life.”
Antoinette Williams left a job at The Seattle Repertory Theatre to pursue her love of cooking and to get a sense of fulfillment.
“When I started culinary school I expected to learn how to make unique but classic food, but what I didn’t expect was all the other important things I would learn that I didn’t even know I needed to know. Finding the balance between knowing why certain flavors work together chemically and being able to experiment with non-traditional combinations is one of the most valuable lessons I learned here. I also had the benefit of learning from not only one, but multiple Chef Educators. They were open to my ideas and were able to help me figure out why or why not to make certain choices when cooking. But the real wealth of knowledge was in the kitchen dynamic. Culinary school really helped prepare me for the restaurant environment. I learned to work with all personalities in the kitchen. The Farm To Table® Experience was another surprise and by far my favorite part of school. I have a newfound appreciation for the months of work that go into producing every element of a dish and that respect for food has undoubtedly made me a better chef.”