Why would anyone want to read about a career soldier who, after 20 years in the military, decided he wanted to go to culinary school and become a chef?
I don’t know either!
I do know that I’m here now. Yep, after a 20 year military career, I found myself firmly ensconced as a student at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vermont, surrounded by kids 30 years my junior in most cases. How did I get there, you might ask?
This will sound really silly, but bear with me …
Way back in 1994, I was serving as a Company Commander in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. My unit had a function, one which included a chili cook off. I’d recently begun subscribing to Food and Wine magazine (don’t ask me why – I think it had something to do with feeding both my wife and myself a little better), and there was an article on chili. I used one of the recipes in that issue (it has since become my “go to” chili recipe, with some modifications), and won the cook off. I was so proud – I still have the little ribbon my commander gave me.
After that, I was hooked. I bought pots. I bought pans, knives, immersion blenders, a Robot Coupe food processor, a Kitchen Aid Mixer. I took classes, bought books, watched the Food Network (except for Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee – They-Must-Be-Stopped). I even bought a 600 pound BBQ cooker, all welded, cold rolled steel that took five of us to get out of my truck. The obvious result of all this buying, reading and watching was the realization that I knew that I wanted to cook – it became my passion. All because I won a simple chili cookoff.
20 years later, I am now a Chef-Instructor at a local Community College. Along the way, I’ve worked in restaurants, at the US Open, done catering events, participated in an American Culinary Federation competition, mentored a student competition team, taught myself how to make my own fermented items, attended a sous vide cooking course, and more. I’ll be talking about my further adventures in the world of food here, and I hope you enjoy seeing and reading about them.