Meet Reynolds Culinary Student
What motivated you to study culinary arts?
My motivation to study Culinary Arts came from my first kitchen job in Fredericksburg at the Sunken Well Tavern. I had never worked in a kitchen before, started as a dishwasher, as everyone does, and the rest is history. It was a very small community-oriented restaurant that taught me a lot of the first lessons every good cook learns and they stuck with me. Working in the kitchen was the first time I had the desire to become better and saw the path to it.
Where are you in your culinary studies?
I'm currently performing my internship at Shula's Steakhouse in Short Pump. Once I finish this class in May, I will be in my final Capstone class. In the past three years the Reynolds program has increased my knowledge of theory and technique at least ten times what it was before I started. I still have a lot to learn from actually working in the industry and different environments with other talented chefs and culinarians. Even though I only have two culinary classes left, my studies are only just beginning.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I'm working on my menu for capstone. I'm trying to get ahead of the game and at least have a few ideas before I step into the classroom. I have four or five cookbooks on my shelf with over half of the recipes bookmarked. Once or twice a week I will make one of the recipes I like to see if it would be worth tweaking for my menu.
What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
Cost Control is one of my favorites because that really is how most people make or break a restaurant. There are thousands of people running food service operations that don't have the knowledge that a culinary professional would. There are plenty of opportunities to make a career out of helping these people. Controlling cost is also one factor that sets chefs apart from cooks. In general my favorite tasks as a culinary student are the ones that challenge me: anything that I'm uncomfortable with or that makes me look at my notes a few times in order to grasp. It's these things that make me a better cook and will help me progress into the parts of this industry that I want to be in.
What is your favorite ingredient?
Cilantro or Oregano, or a blend of both.
Do you have a “signature dish”?
My signature dish is definitely pizza. I love to experiment with different doughs, sauces, topping combinations every time I make a new one, which is at least once a week.
What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
When I graduate I would like to work for a hotel and use that job to travel to Europe. I believe that by travelling to Europe, I will expand my frame of reference so far that when I do eventually come back to the U.S., I will have a lot of experiences that most people here do not have.
What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
My favorite restaurant in Richmond is Pop's Market on Grace. Every time I go there, whether it is for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the food is always amazing. They bake all of their breads and pastries in house and no matter what you decided to eat it is delicious every time. Not only that, but the service is always friendly no matter how busy they are. I recommend the Sage Sausage Egg and Cheese on an Everything Bagel for breakfast and the Italian Grinder for lunch.
What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
Make sure that you have realistic expectations of your time at Reynolds. Too many times I have heard people with great ideas, but no way to back them up. If you cannot do well in your entry level classes in school then you won't do well in the industry either. On a lighter note, make friends and learn from your peers. It's not only your instructors that have important knowledge to share, but also the people working right next to you for the same goal.