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My culinary journey in the kitchen

I've been taking culinary classes for two years now. As a student, I've grown both inside and outside the kitchen, improving my skills and confidence significantly with the help of my culinary arts teacher, Mr. Cruz.

Mr. Cruz has been integral in developing and fostering my love for cooking, but most of all baking. Through my classes at Fallbrook High School, I've been able to develop the skills I've needed to successfully navigate a kitchen both safely and efficiently and further my understanding of how to use a wide variety of kitchen equipment.

I grew up in a house where my dad cooked dinner almost every night, and baked treats for every holiday or special event. As a kid I loved to help, although I'm sure I slowed him down quite a bit, and he loved to let me pour in the milk, add the flour, or decorate the cookies.

He learned his cooking and baking skills from my grandma, who also has an admirable passion for cooking and baking for her family, and they have both taught me a lot about how important food is and how it can bring people together.

However, there was one thing that held me back from truly throwing myself into cooking, which is that I had a lot of anxiety surrounding the kitchen. I could not cook or bake on my own, because I was afraid I'd mess up and cause some sort of disastrous house fire or damage to my kitchen.

During my sophomore year, I heard a friend who was a junior at the time mention that she took culinary classes there on campus, and I instantly knew it was something I had to be a part of.

In joining the class, I wasn't instantly in love. There was a minimum of three weeks of book work and learning (if I remember correctly), and it was definitely not my favorite. I did not understand at the time how something like reading about how to properly cut a carrot could be useful to me, but I found out shortly after when we began actually cooking from standardized recipes.

My anxieties surrounding the kitchen one by one dissipated, and I got comfortable with the gas stoves, hot ovens, and large kitchen knives provided by the class. Mr. Cruz's guidance helped me immensely with building up my confidence and allowing me room to succeed.

Through this experience with culinary classes, I've had the opportunity to practice proper knife techniques and cuts, the proper methods used to cook different proteins, and how to combine and pair flavors together to create some truly amazing dishes.

I've learned different baking methods, cooking techniques, and how to prepare ingredients. I can understand kitchen directions and phrases which allow me and others to effectively navigate the sometimes chaotic kitchen environment.

I am capable of keeping an organized, clean, and efficient cooking station as well. These are all skills I likely would have never learned had I not chosen to pursue these classes and truly done my best to learn and improve.

My list of abilities in the kitchen has grown far beyond what my sophomore self thought possible, and I am committed to continuing to improve my techniques and broaden my knowledge. I have not yet decided what official career I am looking to pursue, but culinary is definitely a very strong option for me.

I am passionate about cooking, and my love for culinary arts has only grown since joining Fallbrook's amazing program. The encouragement and support I've received from not only Mr. Cruz, but also my family and my friends, has given me all the confidence I needed to succeed and get to where I am today.

Following my graduation from Fallbrook High School, I will be attending Palomar Community College for two years under the Palomar Promise Program. After the conclusion of those two years, I plan on transferring to a four-year university to complete my education.

As of currently, the school I attend following my time at Palomar will depend on what career path I decide I am most interested in pursuing professionally. It was my dream for a long time to attend Chico State University just like my mom did, and I still would absolutely love to do so should I choose a career outside of culinary or hospitality. If I do choose to pursue culinary arts as a profession, my top school would be Cal Poly Pomona.


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