By: Ryan Hodros, Culinary Arts Student
As you may have guessed from my recent blog entry about culmination, we recently finished the Farm-to-Table block of the Culinary Arts program, officially ending our time in classroom at Auguste Escoffier. Now we’re moving on to our externships, and eventually to a place in the industry and graduation. Guiding our efforts during our final six weeks was Chef Eric Longhini, whom I sat down to interview to commemorate our last days at Escoffier.
What’s your background in the culinary industry?
I have worked in many facets of this industry. My start was dishwashing and bussing, and then moved to butchery. I have worked in small restaurants to high-end resorts. Eventually I worked my way up to an Assistant Food and Beverage Director before coming to AESCA.
What made you want to get into culinary education?
Both of my parents were teachers and watching people grow and learn has always been my favorite part of this industry.
What is your favorite part of being a teacher at Escoffier?
It is absolutely the students, and not just mine. Watching them grow and gain confidence is amazing to see and it helps me to grow as well.
What is the most challenging part of teaching?
Staying on top of all the information and changes in the industry. Our world is constantly changing and in different ways in different areas.
What was your favorite job prior to coming to Escoffier?
Working at the Fat Canary with Chef Kelly. It was one of the best collections of people I have ever worked with. We all looked forward to coming to work every day and often time showed up hours before we were supposed to be there. Being a butcher is a close second though. Breaking down animals is something I really enjoy doing, as well as sausage making.
What is your favorite thing/dish to cook?
Gnocchi, it’s why I started cooking. I wanted to recreate my grandmother’s after she had a stroke and could no longer cook. It always makes me think of family.
What advice would you give to students about to come to the Farm-to-Table block?
Come in with an open mind and start learning about the current state of our food systems to be able to discuss and dissect them. Also, be ready to get your hands dirty.
As I said in the Culmination article linked above, I learned a lot from Chef Eric during my six weeks with him, not only about the food industry and local and sustainable farming, but also about organizing a banquet, front of house operations, and whole hog butchery. He is an amazing instructor, and I’m glad I got to learn from him.