At 16, my first job was at The Manor in my hometown of West Orange, NJ, where my culinary awareness exploded with proper food preparation along with amazing presentations. I had no idea the accolades and awards they were receiving but I could tell they excelled in everything they did and it was just such a kick to soak it in and be a part of it.
Fast forward two decades, post college and not completely satisfied with my retail years in NYC or my early corporate experience here in Virginia, I went back to my core interests and started my own little café/catering company. Attending L’Academie de’Cuisine in Bethesda, MD to gain greater insight into the world I had just signed up for, a very familiar Frenchman walked in as my instructor on my first day of class. Low and behold Francois Dionot, Founder and Director of the school, was the Chef I worked under as a teenager back in New Jersey. I was not aspiring to be a chef, nor did I become one, but I loved the culinary world and wanted to gain a comprehensive basis for all cooking so I spent every Monday and Thursday night battling the beltway for almost a year learning classical French cuisine from a theory, technique and practical skills prospective.
The tides started turning and eating real food with real sauces became out of vogue and critiqued. Diet crazes became the rage and insane. Trying to learn more, and well aware I could shed a few myself, I enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY for a very intensive week of nutritional cuisine training.
All in all, it always comes back to fresh food, prepared well, in moderate portions is key. A little exercise doesn’t hurt either.