Sunday, May 3, 2009

Confessions of a Stagiere

It hasn't exactly been a secret -- but not something I've written about either. I think it's time.

You can tell by scanning through my blog that I love food. Well, a few months back, through a series of food related incidents, I figured I should put my love of food and my love of writing together and do food journalism. This after I would tell people about stories on food I was working on. Finally someone asked me, "why don't you do this for a living?" Good question. Because I'd never considered it as a career possibility? Plus there really isn't any training to be a food writer. Everybody eats. But that's not enough to make you an "expert".

So what does make you a food "expert"?

Some people go to culinary school and become chefs. Some just go straight to work in a kitchen. Some travel the world, eating their way through the timezones. Some grow up on farms. Sometimes you're just a loudmouth that gets picked up by the Food Network (you'd like me to name some names wouldn't you? Pick one). In other words, nothing and everything can qualify you as an authority on the edible.

Having expertise to draw on is important to me. So I set about finding ways to do that.

I had originally thought about going to culinary school. In fact, I had applied and been accepted at the Art Institute in downtown Vancouver. It's a long story, but turns out due to recession related money matters and other things, this wasn't going to be an option after all.

After my day long stint at Lumiere back in January, I talked to the chef about my failed culinary school plans. He suggested I work as a stagiere (working for free) in his kitchen and learn that way.

Well, I took him up on it. Every Friday for the past few weeks I've been heading over to Lumiere, putting on whites and spending anywhere between 10 and 12 hours in the kitchen. What am I doing there? I help with prep for the first part of the day and assist with service during dinner, mostly plating the amuse bouche.

I've been dying to blog about this but there are reasons why I haven't. I don't want to make the chef and the staff uncomfortable in any way by making them feel overly scrutinized, especially when I have to work with them every week. Initially I wasn't sure what to do with the whole experience, but I've come to take it for what it is: insight into one of Vancouver's top kitchens, working with some incredibly talented people and doing one of my favourite things: working with food.

I figure if I want to be a food writer, what better time to start? At the very least I'm an expert on my own journey.

My fridays as a stagiere have become the highlight of my week. Whether or not this will eventually put me into any kind of field of expertise is debatable. But for now, I'm thrilled to go along for the ride -- and blog about it all the way. Postings to follow.

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