Cooking School Secrets: Class Update

Three cycles in and the students have gotten so used to the environment -- and each other - that previously hidden personality traits are emerging. No doubt, we'll be separating at the end of this program as either lifelong friends or enemies.

Quirks and comments that were marginally comical or endearing a few weeks ago are starting are losing their charm. I expected some sexual banter, but there's a limit to how many beating the meat jokes one can hear in a week. I can also do without seeing any more body parts molded or carved from food. And I'm a thin line away from agreeing with my daughter who swears that 20-year-old boys are immature, unreliable and sexually obsessed.

We're down a few students. Three have been suspended for fighting (yes, physically attacking each other -- and no, not for the same incident) and another's leaving to serve a sentence for DUI. Several of the classes have a daily production schedule so we're dependent on our classmates; absences are met with resentment, and slacking with anger.

Cheating is rampant. Sure there's copying of homework and test answers, but I was surprised by the programming of formulas and procedures into cell phones that are pulled out when calculators are needed. I know my age may be showing, but I believe that if you can't remember how many cups are in a quart, it just might be time to consider a different career.

Knives and other equipment are "jacked" daily. No amount of initial-etching or multi-colored tape seems to stop the cycle. The domino effect is clearly at work - if one person's fillet knife is gone today, you can expect someone else's will walk off tomorrow. One of my classmates actually had his diced onions and carrots swiped; another is planning to dye her side towels pink in an attempt to ward off snatchers.

Most days it feels like I'm in high school again. Must be karmic debt for something or other.

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