Back when I was in culinary school, I attended regular monthly meetings of our American Culinary Federation chapter. They were a great opportunity to rub shoulders with fellow students and professional culinarians, learn about industry trends, and occasionally give a lesson of my own.
One of these chapter meetings was held at an organic farm on the outskirts of Westerville, Ohio. They raised lambs and grew a variety of herbs, fruits, and vegetables. During a break, I went for a walk with one of my classmates from Columbus State. In the kitchen, this guy was an intimidating figure – tall, determined, refined. He competed on our hot foods team, and later went on to become an instructor. However, on this particular evening, the teacher became the student.
As we walked past the garden, I made the remark, “Wow, look at all that asparagus!” To this, he replied, “What, where? I don’t see any.” In hindsight, I can’t fault him too much. He, like most people, was used to seeing bundles of 8” spears from the store or produce supplier; what I was pointing out looked quite different.
The meeting, I should mention, took place in the late summer. Asparagus is a type of fern. If those delicious little stems were not plucked from their bed and allowed to grow, the stalk can grow several feet tall, and those tight little leaves along the stem become leafy branches. So, what I pointed out as asparagus would look to the inexperienced observer as an oversized houseplant. You have to crouch down, lift up those fern branches, and take a closer look at the base of the plant before you begin to see any resemblance to the vegetable we know and love (and if you don’t love it, you probably haven’t had it prepared the right way).
All this to say: sometimes you know something that someone else doesn’t, and you don’t realize that they don’t know it until they tell you. It can be easy to take our own knowledge and experience for granted. I didn’t lose any respect or admiration for my fellow chef; in fact, I was honored to be able to add to his base of knowledge. I have been surprised countless times by the knowledge or techniques which I take for granted but others are seeing or hearing for the first time. Likewise, I continue to learn things of which I am a little surprised I hadn’t already picked up on earlier in my career.
That is why I am so excited to be presenting Cookin’ with Kibby to people of all ages and experience levels. You may be surprised by how much there is to learn about food preparation and the impact it will have on your ability to enjoy cooking. Sign up for a session today, and who knows, you may teach me a thing or two!