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  • Writer's pictureLillian E.

First Day of School!

January 4, 2024. The moment we've all been waiting for: Lillie gets her uniform. Taadaa! It's not even finished in this photo. I've got a white... napkin (for lack of a better word) that I have to tie around my neck and put under the jacket, as well as an apron and tea towel (for carrying hot things only, not cleaning or drying) that I stick in my waistband.

Let's rewind a bit. Orientation was the day before FDOC (on Thursday) and I arrived at school, picked up my badge, and shuffled around the building on a tour with one of the head chefs with 10-15 other people. They showed us different classrooms, different kitchens, explained the locker rooms and common areas, and then passed us along to administration for uniform fittings and kit distribution. I met a couple people in my group who are enrolled in my course, but also people in patisserie, boulangerie, and plant-based cuisine.

We were instructed to return at 5pm, which we did, for the welcome cocktail party! I don't think everyone was there, but if I had to guess there were about 100 people. A few chefs gave speeches, as well as a former student, and then we were served Galette des Rois (with the possibility of finding a tiny hidden figure inside. I wonder if anyone's ever broken a tooth?) Anyways, I forgot to take a photo of the party. I did meet people from all over the place though, including a few Americans! I ended up having dinner with two people from Australia and India at a random cafe we stumbled across and had such a good time.

Some photos I took on the walk home. Wintertime means I've been experiencing a lot of Paris at night.

Ok back to first day of school (Jan. 5) I had to bring all of my stuff back to school (took it home to organize, will be leaving in my locker in the future. The knife kit alone weighs a ton!)

Phones aren't allowed in class (for all of the obvious reasons), and I wasn't going to bother risking that, so no photos. The first class, just for information, went from 11h-13h30 and was just 50 of us in uniform, sitting at desks and listening to Chef (in French) and his translator (in English). He passed out our course binders full of material and recipes, covered course logistics, exam information, grading, uniforms, how to sharpen knives, and administrative things like email and wifi etc. We had enough time between that and our first demo class to run downstairs and grab a banana/ coffee/ sandwich/ tea/ water from the cafe.

Demo 01 went from 14h-17h and the ~40 of us taking Culinary Basics (both standard and intensive) went back to the classroom to watch Chef teach us every cutting technique under the sun. He amassed quite a few little plates of carrots, potatoes, radish, leek, and a courgette for us to grab a photo of afterwards for study purposes. He also put the rest of the vegetables into a GIANT pot with a ton of bone marrow to make a beef stock. In our first practical, we won't be making stock, just chopping vegetables and even then just a few basic styles. He assured us we'll probably never need to tourner un champignon (look it up, it's very pretty and super hard to do).

With copious amounts of notes, they sent us back out into the world and I (changed out of my uniform- it's not allowed to see the outside world for hygiene reasons) took my giant binder for a ride on the metro home.

The most fun was meeting up with friends for a crêpe night! I asked my host mom what people drink with crêpes and, being from Bretagne, she said "du cidre!" So I picked up a bottle each of brut and douce, then ventured off into the heart of Paris to meet my friend. We made a quick pitstop at Franprix for some more beverages and then went to someone else's apartment where we proceeded to chat (they're very patient with my French, and I'm definitely getting better), eat, watch TV, pet their dog, and play several rounds of various card games. Everybody was very brave and tried maple syrup for the first time, to varying degrees of success.

First practical was on Saturday so I'll start a new entry! I'm running a little behind already on keeping my thoughts up to date here, but I'd rather be out doing things than sitting inside and writing about them!

Vive la crêpe!

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