April 11, 2014

Ryan Hodros, Pastry Arts Student

With a background in Navy intelligence, an English degree, an engineering education from University of Colorado Boulder, weeks away from Pastry Arts graduation (August 2013), and just as close to commencing Culinary Arts (April 2014), Ryan Hodros is a modern day Renaissance man. He hopes to connect these skills with a career in journalism. Hodros’ culinary education is already helping him to achieve that goal. Here he tells us about applying his culinary skills through writing for his externship. Hodros is doing double duty by writing for the Escoffier blog and maintaining the beer coverage for Boulder’s own 303 Magazine.

Escoffier: What brought you to culinary school?
Hodros: Originally I came to Colorado to attend University of Colorado Boulder for engineering and since we were moving to this area, Tressa (my wife) decided to attend Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. The entire time I was very jealous of all the stuff she was doing in culinary school because I thought it would be more fun. There was no point in daydreaming about being in culinary school; I may as well jump right in! And Tressa had such a positive experience.

Escoffier: How did you decide to pursue the writing route for your externship?
Hodros: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I have a degree in English and I’ve been interested in writing [professionally]. I thought culinary school would be a good way to break into food and entertainment writing. If I have the opportunity, I’d love to break into food journalism.

Escoffier: How did you land your externship at 303 Magazine?
Hodros: Tressa dug up their annual physical copy of the magazine. I kind of laughed it off. They were taking interns; I called and they took me on. The worst that can happen is they say no; I didn’t think it would happen. A lot of people don’t try for their dream job because they don’t think it is going to work. Trying for it is the first step, you know?

Escoffier: Is writing your dream job?
Hodros: Food journalism, if I have my way, is definitely my dream job. It is great to give exposure to these really talented people who desperately need it like small local bakeries or breweries. Outside of the Navy, it is the best I can do for the community.

Escoffier: Do you have a favorite writing assignment so far?
Hodros: I got to interview the owners of the Bootstrap Brewing in Niwot, which is an unheard of tiny brewery. I planned to review beer, but their personal story – how they quit their jobs and opened a brewery – was fascinating. I was really glad to be able to give them some exposure. (Read Hodros’ coverage of Bootstrap Brewing for 303 Magazine here.)

Escoffier: Has writing about food made you a better chef?
Hodros: I’ve been adding recipes to all the blogging entries I do. A lot of the stuff you do in the kitchen becomes second nature, but when you are writing a recipe you have to pay attention to every little step. It is helpful because it increases your understanding of the processes and why they work. For example, I wrote an article on making a Genoise-style cake and I understood the process, but in researching to describe the recipe [for readers] I really ended up understanding why it works and not just how to do it.

Escoffier: After your externship you are going right into Culinary Arts. Do you have specific goals for this phase of your education?
Hodros: In terms of writing I’m trying to streamline because right now I have to write eight drafts [for each piece]. I’m trying to work that down. I’m trying to stay organized in my thoughts in order to be more efficient. In terms of the kitchen, I need to work on my knife skills. When we are cooking at home, Tressa’s pile of [prepped food] is twice as big as mine.

Escoffier: Do you have any advice to share with new students?
Hodros: The most important thing to bring to the classroom is organization. The people who struggled the most right out of the gate were the people who had trouble staying organized. Write out your recipes ahead of time and prepare your questions ahead of time. Stay organized with your tools; not knowing where your stuff is or not having your recipe ready really slows down production.