Rites of Passage

Rites of passage, why do they matter and why am I pondering
them? And what the hell are they? The ever helpful internet tells us that a rite of passage is a ritual event that marks a person’s progress from one status to another. It is a universal phenomenon which can show anthropologist what social hierarchies, values, and beliefs are important in specific cultures.

Well I really don’t give a shit about anthropologists, but food is so connected to the specific cultures and traditions of a kitchen that it is no surprise that during the season of graduations I would be pondering not only my personal rites of passage but those of my students as well.

Some of the rites of passage I’ve lived through and that are popping up in my mind like flashcards are…

  • My first special personal moment, if you you know what I mean
    The first time I snuck a peek at my dad’s playboy
    My first boilermaker
    The first time I got to experience the finer attributes of a female
    When I got my own playboy subscription (which is now a collection)
    Killing an animal that could kill me
    Jumping out of an airplane
    My first rush on the hotline
    Graduating from college
    My first wedding
    My first divorce
    My second wedding
    The birth of my daughter
    The day I failed my CEC test
    The day I passed my CEC test
    The first time I stood in front of my class
    Speaking at graduation as a faculty member

I could go on and on but what I really want to talk about is the rites of passage for my students. With graduation this month and our pinning ceremony the night before, I have found myself celebrating the achievements of my students. As a teacher, nothing makes me prouder than to see, firsthand, their rites of passage.

As students progress through my program their rites of passage may look something like this….

  • Survived 105…learned knife cuts without losing a finger
    Made mayonnaise without making anyone sick
    Made it through 115….understanding the importance of mother sauces
    Delivered a perfect tourné
    My first artisan bread
    The first time I was able to make fondant work
    Discovered the importance of world cuisine
    Butchery…who knew I could take a whole animal and turn it into table fare
    The first time I made a classic dish and had Chef tell me it was perfect

As my students leave graduation and head out into the culinary world, I wish them all the best in their new chapter of life and may they recall their culinary rites of passage with the pride and honor they deserve.

And have a little fun too.


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