It is very common for younger generations to question their future endeavors. Many college graduates and adults, well into their late twenties, are still finding their place in the workforce, what they want to spend forty to fifty hours a week doing. There are those who even go to college for something totally the opposite of what they end up pursuing, only a few years into their futures. As for myself, I am happy to say I have somewhat of an idea of where I can see my future going, but only so far. It's hard to tell people you don't know what you want to do when your currently enrolled in a career specialized college. But, to be honest I don't know. I am still trying to find my place in the food industry; what interests me the most about cooking every day. What’s it about plating food with tweezers and small serving spoons that intrigues me; or how excited I get to style food on a plate, stage it with props, and snap shots for you to see? Perhaps, I am on an inspiring journey, searching for my culinary identity.
Recently I read an article online about a person who was seeking their culinary identity, and it opened up my mind to something I never really considered before. I have always been curious to what exactly my cooking style was. I realized that, I am one of hundreds of culinary students, here at the CIA, finding their culinary identity. Exactly, that’s just the word to describe it! Culinary Identity is about finding your style through geography, culture, tradition, education, and trends in the food industry. Similarly, this concept can be used for any person finding their self in the world, what they have passion for, or their identity in the work force. But, as for chefs out there seeking their culinary identity, what is it that speaks to their style the most? Farm to Table American or classic French cuisine? How about presentation styles; are they into presenting food to an audience with more of a homey rustic approach or is it fine dining quality? Do they like small, intimate restaurants, that turn a table every 2-3 hours, serving guests tasting menus with miniscule portions, or do they like high volume production, catering to wedding parties of over two hundred people in one sitting? On spectrum of food media, perspective chefs may consider writing cook books, working for a food magazine testing recipes, or on Food Network in front of a camera crew. The options are substantial, and that may be why as chefs, we find ourselves in a frenzy over what we want to do. We often hope that miraculously we are told what we are going to like for the rest of our lives, so we no longer have to wait and wonder. But, in this life the only way you are going to find your passion is through trial and error, working, staging, experiencing, and be educated. “There are times to stay put, and what you want will come to you, and there are times to go out into the world and find such a thing for yourself”, a quote from Lemony Snicket, Horseradish.
Aspiring chefs may find it difficult to settle on what they see oneself doing in life. Most of the time a life of a chef revolves around a swinging kitchen door, other times they are traveling in box trucks unloading prepped food for a wedding on the beach, and sometimes they share their experiences and love of food in cookbooks and on television shows. With the countless options there are, you as a chef will find what you are seeking, and what exactly your palate for life is!