By: Kathryn Dwyer, Culinary Arts Student
Transitioning from the kitchens to the farm to table experience at Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts is as fun as it is challenging. For months, the daily routine is pretty standard at school; every day is structured and planned out, down to the uniforms you wear everyday. Going from that firm daily schedule of the kitchen to the daily-changing agenda of the farm to table experience can really shake up your life. There is no reason, however, that it should get in the way of getting the most out of the program. With a good attitude, some flexibility and proper planning, success is easy to find.
As a mid-day culinary arts student, getting to the farms bright and early in the morning was something I dreaded. When I received the schedule for our farm to table experience, seeing many 8 AM days sent a shiver of fear down my spine. I knew it was going to be a little rough for me, so to prepare I had to make my mornings as easy as possible. By planning out everything from breakfast to work-boots made my days much less stressful and ensured I’d be present and ready everyday.
As usual, food is my first concern so preparing a healthy, filling breakfast the night before was essential (something like this frittata). Lunch at the farms changes day-to-day as well; sometimes we prepare food, other times we were given a little time off to go pick something up or eat a packed meal. It was hard to know everyday what to expect, so I took to storing a few non-perishable things in my car and bringing a piece of fruit or half-sandwich on days I wasn’t sure on the plan. The snacks stored in my car saved me and my classmates on several occasions, granola bars and trek-mix can go a long way when you don’t know when you’re next meal is coming!
Clothes were another hurdle to conquer; after months of uniforms and never giving a thought to my clothes, figuring out what to wear everyday was something else I would definitely prepare the night ahead. My classmates and I were on the farms in late fall when both the weather and what we were doing daily was unpredictable. Layers were the key, down to packing a pair of long-johns, a jacket and extra socks in my vehicle. Having the option of layering up or down is really important when trying to stay comfortable, as well as having options in case you get wet or too dirty. Lastly, a pair of comfy, sturdy working boots will make you more productive and infinitely more comfortable when traipsing around the farms than sneakers caked to the ankle in mud.
The last and probably the most important thing I could prepare ahead of time was how I was to get to the farms, as the locations vary day by day. Going online and mapping out driving directions and distance made a huge difference in my mornings. I feel like I learned so much about Colorado geography figuring out where I was to be going as we covered quite a large distance around the Boulder area. Carpooling and arranging rides with your classmates (especially those without vehicles) is always a great idea and will help everyone make good attendance during the program.
The last bit of advice I can give about having success during the farm to table experience is to be flexible. Having an easy-going, positive attitude during the program is essential to happiness and success. Things will be very different from the classroom; you’re meeting new people, working outside doing all kinds of tasks, teaming up with other cohorts, learning exciting things and experiencing new perspectives. The schedules can change, you’ll be tired and hungry at times, your days will be varied and crazy and all over the place, but you’ve got to appreciate all of it. It is such a gift what the farmers, restaurateurs, business people and school administrators have given to the program, the time and dedication it takes to put together such a comprehensive, fascinating, life-changing experience.
One of my chefs was a real proponent of “the seven p’s.” Proper prior planning prevents a piss poor performance. A good performance during the farm to table experience is something all students at Auguste Escoffier should aim for, it is something not to be missed or slacked-off, it deserves your respect. With a little forethought and planning though, success is simple. I hope your farm to table experience is as eye opening, fascinating and fun as mine and I hope these few tips make your experience a positive one.
For more information on our Farm-to-table program, please contact our campuses for more information:
1.866.552.2433 Austin Campus
1.877.249.0305 Boulder Campus