Trial by Fire: Taste of Miami Culinary Stage (or, Pamela is a newborn culinary groupie)

At the end of class on Friday, one of the school’s staff members popped into our classroom looking for some last-minute volunteers for a travel trade show on Sunday. Volunteers would be assisting a couple of Miami-based chefs with a live demo.

Perhaps it will not surprise most of you (i.e. Mom, anyone who has even been in a class with me, or really anyone who’s been around me for 5 minutes) that I am an insufferable suck up and joiner. “Tally Ho” is a nickname given to me by Carrie.

Dressed in my chef’s jacket and new clogs (because I really just couldn’t do the “Forest Gump” shoes anymore) and toting my knife roll (hoping nobody would challenge me to a gang fight on the subway) I made my way to the Javits Convention Center determined to make myself useful, despite my 3 days of culinary school experience. One of my fellow classmates and relative culinary newbie, Robert, was also there, so at least I wouldn’t be the only one looking overly excited and clueless.

I leared very quickly that enthusiasm was key, and the chefs were appreciative of this alone, which is good because my personal shortcomings felt especially large in two areas. One – the lingo I haven’t picked up yet. “Bain Marie” is the term for what I might otherwise call “that cylindrical buckety thing” and “speed rack” is certainly more efficient language than”the tall wheelie tray situation.” Two – I am often in the way. Half the time I instinctively knew how to be helpful, but when that instinct eluded me, somehow I managed to be right in the middle of all the traffic.

Nonetheless, I had a great time helping Chef Anthony Velasquez plate some tasting samples of Parsnip Risotto with Florida Stone Crab.

Plus I got to take a good portion of some of those components home with me. And a bottle of wine offered by the volunteer coordinator, Adeena.

And then I signed up for every other volunteer opportunity between now and July.

Chef Anthony

Robert is unafraid of shrimp

Parsnip risotto. It's what's for lunch.

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