Chef School Secrets

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Secrets of the C.I.A: America\'s Premier Chef\'s School

Jeffrey N Brown

Georgia Southern University - Statesboro

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This narrative school portraiture will introduce the reader to one of the world\'s finest culinary

schools, and the leader in American culinary arts training.

The history of culinary education in America will be examined and the rise of professional culinary

education will be presented to familiarize the reader with the current state of this type of


Additionally, the author will provide personal recollections from his own experience as a student

at the "Culinary" in the late 1970\'s.

The author will attempt to impart the flavor and mystique that the Culinary Institute of America

represents to culinary professionals around the world. It is a special place in the hearts of many

and more so in the hearts of its alumni.

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Secrets of the C.I.A: America\'s Premier Chef\'s School
As a young man, perhaps the age of 11 or 12, I was introduced to the world of the Chef.
It was magic, gleaming stainless steel, aromas of simmering sauces, the taut military jaw of the
Executive Chef looking over his brigade of cooks, pure magic for a boy who had dreams.
My introduction to culinary arts came about through my involvement in Boy Scouts. As a
youngster, growing up in the turbulent sixties, my life needed direction which was found in
Scouting. The premises of Scouting are simple, work hard, gain rewards through the
accomplishment of tasks, gain leadership opportunities to help younger scouts succeed; lessons
learned for life. A part of Scouting is to proceed through a series of ranks, based on performance
and the completion of work which garners a "merit badge." As a scout earns merit badges,
selected from a list much like a core courses are offered in a college major, the award of rank is
presented in a ceremony attended by peers, parents and scout leaders. It is exciting, as Napoleon
said in 1804 to Field Marshall Foch, " . . . men won\'t walk across the street for money, but
they will die for medals." Boys have similar motivation and do the same for a scout badge. The
more merit badges earned, the higher the rank and more the prestige in the scouting community.
Beginning with "Tenderfoot," a scout progresses through the ranks as follows: "Second
Class," "First Class," "Star Scout," "Life Scout" and the final and most coveted award "Eagle
Scout." I had set my eyes on the prize of becoming an Eagle Scout, one of only two percent of
scouts who accomplish this rank. One of the merit badges on the road to Eagle was Cooking,
hence my introduction to Chef Johnson of the Ember Room.

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Chef Johnson, a graduate of the New Haven Restaurant Institute, was the expert who had
to sign off on my Cooking merit badge completion sheet. With his signature the merit badge was
mine and another box could be checked off toward my earning the hungered for Eagle Scout
rank. This was easier said than done, as Chef Johnson was a task master who did not take his role
as mentor lightly. I thrived under his scrutiny of my work like I had never done before, I liked it. With the help of my scout leaders and the patient guidance of Chef, I reached my goal and became an Eagle Scout in October 1966.
Chef Johnson, even as an adult I never called him by his first name, instilled in me a new sense of self-respect and the ability to create a product which did so many things to and for people, it was indeed magic and POWER! I worked for Chef during my years in high school and sadly during the summer after graduation I left his gentle hand for the world only a young man can experience. My dream was to become the best "chef", with a small c, as I could. I could not yet compare myself to my mentor and teacher, Chef with a big C. I must earn that right by paying my dues and learning my craft a day at a time.
The opportunity to work in a variety of positions in hotels and restaurants was afforded