Pressure, Excitement and Focus: My Culinary Day in the Life

Juliet Faas

Four-thirty in the morning. That’s when my eyes flutter open and my ears hear the piercing alarm going off. Although it’s early, I can’t help but feel excited for what the day is about to bring! Every day, from Monday to Thursday, I start my day at 4:30am and get ready for a productive day in my sophomore labs.

Once my alarm goes off, I make my way to the kitchen to prepare a shot of espresso and simple breakfast to start my day off well. The night before, I iron my uniform and place it on a hanger so it’s crisp and ready to go in the morning. Along with my chef whites, my knives are sharpened and my bag is all packed.

Finally, I rush to Gaebe Commons on the DownCity Campus to catch a bus to Harborside. Once I arrive, I usually review my notes for the upcoming class and make sure everything is all set. Before labs start, every student must get their uniforms inspected and present their homework assignments. Once inspection and lecture are over, the best part of the day begins: Production!

"There’s something about the pressure and excitement when you’re prepping the line."

I just finished up International Cuisines and Culinary Cultures with Chef Neath Pal. In this lab, we “travel” around the globe and learn about different cuisines, cultures, and cooking styles.

On day two, we prepared dishes from Greece, Turkey, and Israel. That was one of my favorites — not only was the food delicious (one word: couscous!) but it was also our first day cooking on the line.

Day 7 was my practical day — I had to create a dish showcasing the cuisine of Northern Asia. Chef Pal pushes each student every day to do their best with their assigned tasks, and to take away as much experience as possible.

There’s something about the pressure and excitement when you’re prepping the line. You constantly check your mise en place, watch the clock, and make sure the stations are set up effectively. Once service starts, everybody working the line is in a state of focus — and they channel that creative passion into their dishes. I can hear the searing of fish skin as it hits the scorching hot pan and smell the sauces simmering. I love every second of cooking on the line and can’t wait for many more days of honing my skills.

Every day in labs ends with a full deep cleaning of the kitchens. I personally enjoy cleaning, and it’s so satisfying seeing a spotless kitchen when you walk out the doors at the end of the day. The day isn’t done once labs are over — that’s when we start preparation for the next day! I study the material that we will be covering and write the recipes that I have been assigned to prepare. Any homework assignments or quizzes that are assigned I complete as soon as possible. Being prepared in advance will set you up for successful day in lab!

I can’t thank all the chef-instructors from my first-year labs enough for prepping me so well for these sophomore labs, including chefs Britt, Haddad, Vaillancourt, Robothom, Maguire, Kelly and Demaria, as well as Instructor Bodensiek and Associate Professor Weill. All the culinary foundations — from mother sauces to essential knife skills — have prepared me and set me up for success this year, and for the years to come.


Students during Chef Pal's lab.