Today was the first official day of my National Student Leadership Conference for Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management! I say first official day because we may have gotten here yesterday, but we pretty much just checked in and went over code of conduct stuff. The dorm I was assigned it sort of a suite, like all of their dorms, but it’s a single dorm connected to another single by way of a bathroom. Sort of Jack and Jill style. My roommate’s name is Savannah, and she’s from Tennessee. I think we’re going to be good friends. 🙂
After breakfast, we had a meeting with our team. Each team is lead by a teacher’s assistant, and we have two of them. The meeting was about where we want to take our restaurant. In this program each group designs their own restaurant. They choose the style, the theme, the feel, they design, the inside, the front of the house, and the menu. We’ve pretty much decided our general theme and feel, and everyone began crafting ideas of what they’d like to put on the menu for our next meeting. I’m not going to say the theme we’re going with just yet, because I wouldn’t want to reveal the secret to our opposing teams! Saturday the list of ingredients for the three menu items we decide to prepare is due. Towards the end of the conference we’ll be cooking the three items from our menu, and be plating them for a panel of judges who are actually professionals involved in the industry. We’ll make more than just a few plates worth though, because the rest will be served buffet style to the rest of the culinary groups for lunch. We’ll have three hours to craft our meals from start to finish, and the sky is pretty much the limit on whatever ingredients we need. It’s pretty exciting, I’m just a bit worried about any conflict involving difference of opinion within the group.
Once the meeting was completed, we took a two hour bus ride farther into New York, where we arrived at a camp. The camp had ropes courses, climbing walls, a paintball arena, etc. We did some team building activities, which were pretty frustrating but helped us bond. Then we did the Jacob’s ladder. It’s these rungs that are spaced almost human height apart, and you climb up them wearing a harness until you get to the top. They also swivel some and are connected to each other and to the trees next to them by wire cables. It was pretty difficult, but I made it with some help from our course facilitator: he helped by pulling me up with the belaying thing. I did end up with a couple of bruises from climbing that one. We then went on the “giant swing,” which is a wooden round swing that you sit on and have your harness clipped to an above wire. Then you hold onto another rope, and your teammates run and pull the other end, which lifts you up to the top wire. You then let go when the facilitator says “release,” and go swinging way up in the air and all around. It was pretty fun, but the rope started slipping through my hands on the way up and I got rope burn.
Once we got back we had a class on resumés and interviewing skills, which I found quite informative. After that we had a sundae social with board games. A big group of the culinary kids sat at my table and they played the card game Spoons. It was pretty fun, and I got to meet the few guys that are inthe culinary program. One is Canadian and another Swedish! Ironically enough, the Swede’s parents do work at Ikea. Ha!
Overall not super food related, but fun! Tomorrow we take our first class at the Institute of Culinary Education!