Beaten, Seared and Sauced: On Becoming a Chef at the Culinary Institute of America
Crown, 2011 (2011)
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
onathon Dixon, author of
Beaten, Seared and Sauced
, had a varied employment background by the time he was thirty-eight – as an inspector of nurses' shoes, janitor in a coffin factory, messenger, nanny, newspaper and book music critic, staff writer at
Martha Stewart Living
and creative writing instructor.
e's not quite sure what led him to train to be a chef – something drew him. He loved to cook and decided it should be his life's work. Being accepted in the world famous Institute was a piece of work in itself. Then feeling out of place in a class of mostly late teenagers and twenty-somethings didn't do much for his self-confidence.
etween semesters, he needed an externship. That too was difficult to manage but he was finally accepted in a New York City restaurant and discovered what the drill was – hard work and long hours. Being yelled at was an everyday occurrence. And at first, incessant chopping: onions, carrots, potatoes and any other vegetable that the line chefs needed. Tardiness was not tolerated. Just like being at school.
here were good moments as his time at the school lengthened. But was the kitchen of a restaurant the right spot for him? Upon graduation, he still hadn't decided what in the food line would support him and his girlfriend Nelly in the manner in which they would like to become accustomed.
t's a good book about a man's struggle to achieve his dream, with the support of the woman he loved. His choice of schooling is not for the faint of heart. I know first hand as my daughter graduated from there in 1977 when Julia Child gave the commencement address! Back when women were not encouraged by the teaching chefs to make cooking their life's work. A hard choice but one with many rewards.
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