Cooking School Secrets: Arrogance at Its Best

One of our classes closes with a market basket exam. You get surprise ingredients and have to cook with them. Our taste of life as a Top Chef contestant.

In our version, each student begins by picking the name of a protein out of a hat. Next we are given a few minutes to choose from a cart filled with a variety of grains and vegetables. An hour and 15 minutes later, each aspiring chef presents a plate to 3 judges (I mean, chef instructors). It strikes fear in the hearts of some; excitement in others.

We spent days thinking, planning, googling, printing recipes and running ideas past other chefs and fellow students as we prepared for our first attempt at implementing our own ideas. But we were way off base.

As exam day approached, we realized each chef instructor who was grading had a very clear idea of what he or she wanted to see on the plate. And none were exactly the same.

I get it. Chefs rule. They're the kings and queens of their kitchens. They're always right. Their way or the highway. Must be what makes them believe it's reasonable or appropriate to make statements like these before and after our exam:

About zucchini and summer squash: They're blasé...they're what people cook when they don't know how to cook vegetables.

About haddock: White fish should never be grilled.

About risotto: Who puts mascarpone in risotto?

About peppers in a vegetable side dish: Why add them? Peppers aren't vegetables. You're not making fajitas.

About fruit salsa: Doesn't qualify as a sauce.

Supportive? No. Arrogant? You bet.

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