April 20, 2008

New England Culinary Institute

Originally uploaded by Erica the Ninja

My thought process was simple...

1. I am unhappy in my job.
2. I am never more content than when I am in the kitchen brewing something magical.
3. I should go to culinary school.

One. Two. Three.

Oh, if life were only that simple. I want to be water, to just flow around obstacles as if they didn't exist, but sometimes I am only steel...so quick to warm to an idea, so quick to cool off. One minute I want to open a bakery, the next a veterinary clinic, the next to work on a farm, the next to go to nursing school, the next to be an Aikido bum. Why do I do this to myself?

I signed up for the open house without hesitation. As the day drew near, I felt less and less baker-esque and more and more like I wanted to be a teacher for an all girl's academy in Montreal. ("Do I HAVE to go??? Can't we just be lazy for the weekend instead? I can't be a chef...that is crazy talk"). I had already made the commitment to go, though, so G. indulged me on a trip to Essex Junction, Vermont, in a rented convertible (the guys at my usual rental place seem to think I have taste).

Wow. They sure know how to play. My god...I met chicken farmers and coffee people and a couple of old hippies who forage for food for restaurants (and replant what they take...ooh. I am going out with them on a hunt sometime soon, I hope.). I met someone who thought I would be able to teach food chemistry while I am a student there, which was very, very exciting. We got seed packets. And everyone I met, I asked the same question...are you happy here? Not one of them told me no. In fact, almost all of them told me that they never want to leave. Everyone was passionate about food, in love with NECI and incredibly happy to be there. There is something to be said about that.

Okay. Reality check now. The school gets $50-$100 grand for every student that goes there. OF COURSE they would make it look totally awesome (and I am not saying that it ISN'T). Its just that, well, they were selling me something and I hesitate to buy it just because it came in a pretty package. So the question is, do I go? I will love it, no question, but $50,000 is an expensive whim. And student loans sound about as appealing to me now as having all of my limbs amputated. In fact, it feels almost the same.


Anonymous said...

Hi Erica,

I am so glad you came to the open house! I was one of those people there who never wants to leave, it was so cool seeing all the prospective students who are just as crazy about food as I am. I hope you got a chance to talk to some of us in the pastry and baking department, I teach the mod 1 students breads, quickbreads and breakfast pastries. I hope you come back to see the school soon and I hope you had a great time on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Hi Erica,

As a parent of a graduate from NECI all I can say is it turned out to the best thing my son ever did. He is passionate about his job, loves the creativity, and would never recommend any culinary school but NECI (he has seen students from others) and knows how well NECI teaches. He is now an Executive Chef at a 50 seat bistro a year after graduation and couldn't have done it without NECI.