I had one of the most interesting meals today in Modern Banquets; not because of the food though. I was pleasantly surprised when a gentleman looking to be in his mid 50s sat down with two of my friends. He didn’t say much at first but when appetizers came out the words began to flow.
Come to find out this gentleman’s name was Greg. He has completed about half of the Associates program and has already been out on extern. He talked to us briefly about the kitchen he was in now. He said he didn’t quite love the teacher but all the information that she taught was invaluable. I was told that she had a different teaching style then most of the teachers at this school. Rather than noticing students mistake and ignoring it in order to avoid having to stop the lesson. She actually calls the student out on their mistakes and makes an effort to fix it. She doesn’t just give you the answers though, whenever you do anything in her class she expects you to be able to site the information from either teacher or a book.
Greg told me a story about a girl in his class who dropped out on the second day. She attempted to make a pincage, which is caramelized mirepoix with the addition of tomato paste, but she wasn’t following any real method. The chef asked her what she was doing and the student had no clue. Greg jumped in and saved her but after that she never came back to the class.
After finishing apps, we began to talk about what he had done before he came to this school. Greg told us that he had originally attended this school at the age of 18. At he 19 he decided that the Navy was going to be a better option. We then learned about his military history. Greg was the cook on a submarine that had to feed 150 people 3 times daily. The name bubblehead was given to members of the navy who were stationed on submarines. The food had to be good and he had to get along with everyone. His missions would last up to 30 days. If you got fed up with someone or something you couldn’t really step out of the boat and take a breather at 1200ft deep.
One of the most interesting stories was hearing about halfway night. Each mission there was a party when the crew had completed half the mission. Because of the high amount of gay men on these boats they typically involved “male burlesque” activities. It was quite often that these men would come out during halfway nights dressed in full drag. Greg went on to say some of the best people he worked with were gay and how he enjoyed their attention to detail.
We also talked about how Greg already was an expert pastry chef. He attributed this partially to having to make bread for grilled cheese sandwiches down in the depths of the Atlantic. Even though I had just met him I had already developed an immense amount of respect for Greg. Here’s a man who served our country and kept quite an open mind while doing it. He left the military and adapted well in civilian life. Greg told us how had had been group leader. He had a zero tolerance swearing rule. He also demanded that the students maintain dress code at all times. When I asked him how he enforced these rules he said “If they didn’t follow the rules, I gave them a zero!” He talked about how some of the Chefs drove him crazy because they would swear in front of the females in the class. “There’s the kind of man you’d like to take home and introduce to your mother and sister.” A quote The Great Gatsby and I think it sums up Greg perfectly.
I find it amazing how many people you can meet at this school is astounding. Greg is someone I already consider to be a role model.