…Because I’m officially done with FCI. After basically living within the walls of 462 Broadway for the past 2 years (plus a few days), I’ve officially said goodbye to the place that trained me to cook and gave me my first job after my career change.
This past weekend, I finished up my last job with FCI as the Guest Chef Coordinator for the New York Culinary Experience. Months of planning culminated in an amazing (and exhausting) weekend where I not only ran around like a chicken with my head cut off to make sure that the Guest Chefs had what they needed for class, but I did so without much of a voice since true to being a disaster, I got terribly sick the week leading up to the event.
There was chaos, yelling (on the part of a particularly diva chef and her sous-chef), and crying (mostly on my part quietly in the corner of the storeroom), but in the end, it was the perfect capstone to my career at FCI. Basically, every different division of the school, from the student volunteers to the Admissions department, worked together this weekend to make this event happen, and it warmed my heart in a cheesy girl scout kind of way – not that I was much of a girl scout, I think I made it to Brownies before I pulled a, “Bitch, peddle your own damn cookies” to my troop leader. Of course, this weekend, I was more of the troop leader and my girl scouts were an army of student volunteers who helped me keep my sanity, most-likely preventing a hypoglycemic rage blackout on my part. Basically, these student volunteers probably saved more than my life this weekend.
I also had the chance to witness Chef Jonathan Benno and his team from Per se teach a 2 hour class on using every part of the lobster, serve up multiple appetizer-sized tastings, bring with and cook their own lunch (Cuban sandwiches), all the while not making a single peep or showing any perceivable signs of stress. Damn. That’s freaking elite. I don’t think they ever verbally communicated… maybe there was eye contact or SWAT-like hand signaling going on, or maybe, just maybe, they run like the freakishly efficient well-oiled machine that you would expect them to be. Even if it was to be expected, witnessing their stealth and precise movements and harmonious interaction left me in complete awe. My jaw would have been hanging to the ground if not for the fact that I had to chew the extra tastings that his team plated up for volunteers and staff in the kitchen. Yeah, they had time for that, too. Without FCI, I would never have witnessed something so unforgettable. It was like an exit bonus, minus a whole lot of zeros.
After the frantic energy of this weekend, I spent a few quiet moments finishing up some work in a dark office Sunday night and it hit me all at once – FCI has been my home away from home for 2 years. I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else since moving to NYC. There have been amazing times, and then there have been terrible times, but in the end, I’m so happy and thankful for the friends that I’ve made and all the experiences that I’ve had. Where else could I have become so completely addicted to cocktails (which I believe is called alcoholism…), Swedish meatballs, consommé, blogging, and the best damn baguette this side of the Atlantic?
This event represented the best of my time at FCI, and it made it both easy and difficult to say goodbye to the school. You always want to go out on a good note, but going out on a good note sometimes makes you wish for more. You know, like that perfect dessert that makes you want to stay and order just one more plate.