Food Studies: Meet Michele, Training to Be a Chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute Food Studies: Meet Michele, Training to Be a Chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute

Food Studies: Meet Michele, Training to Be a Chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute

by Michele Wolfson

March 4, 2011

I’m the kind of girl who will be in the middle of eating lunch and already talking about what I am going to have for dinner that night. I love food. I can’t be blamed for this though—I come from a family of food lovers.

Along with the theatrical arts, writing has also always felt natural to me. I completed my undergrad at Pace University in Manhattan and have lived in this glorious city for six and a half years. Many college students live on a suburban campus with frat houses, keg parties, and campus meal plans. My college experience was very different. My roommates and I lived in an apartment three blocks from school in the financial district because it was cheaper than dorming and I could have my own wine rack in my living room without a resident advisor writing me up.

I should mention that I have been a strict vegetarian since I was 7 years old. The same day I was told that meat came from living, breathing animals, I stopped eating it for good. My parents and brother are omnivores, so I’ve been fighting the good fight on my own terms since before I could even spell the word vegetarian.

When I made the decision to become a food writer, it was clear that I needed to find a school that would accept my vegetarianism, and where I wouldn't have to handle or cook meat. That’s how I learned about the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. The school’s focus is on "health-supportive, whole-foods cuisine, with an emphasis on traditional unrefined ingredients," and it is mostly plant-based. They believe that each individual reacts differently to food and that there is not one perfect diet that works for everyone. I read about the school on their website, visited it the next day, and applied that afternoon.

Starting school was a humbling experience: I thought that I knew so much about food, and right away, I realized that there was so much to learn. I'm four weeks into my chef-training program, and I have already learned more than I could ever have imagined. There's nothing better than waking up on a weekday morning with pep in my step in anticipation of learning how to make things like seitan and tofu from scratch. I'm looking forward to sharing this experience with all of you for the next several months.

To be continued... Michele is a student blogger for the Food Studies feature on GOOD's Food hub. Don't miss the first posts from fellow Food Studies bloggers Megan, Leslie, Christine, and Erin, and if you're a food science or agriculture student who would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer blogger, we'd love to hear from you! You can email me, Nicola Twilley, at nicola[at]goodinc[dot]com.

Photos of dishes prepared by the author as part of her chef training; (1) grilled polenta cakes with peppers and grilled asparagus, (2) vegetarian baked beans, and (3) roasted parsnips and carrots with garlic and extra virgin olive oil.

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Food Studies: Meet Michele, Training to Be a Chef at the Natural Gourmet Institute