The Start of My 23rd Year

The Start of My 23rd Year

I spent the first part of my birthday at the dentist. Not what most people would consider great, but I enjoy the dentist much more than all the other health professionals, so I didn’t mind. Did you know I’ve been going to the same dentist since I was 4?? She has watched me grow up and has seemed to remember every milestone in my life just about as much as my parents and the rest of my family do. And she is always ready to hear about the next adventure I’ve been on.

It got me to thinking about what I’ve accomplished in my short 23 years of life and where I stand today. I can see what God has done in my life thus far with perfect vision. But I keep looking forward at an unclear future. I graduate from the CIA in 5 months. And this end date is on my mind every single day. This, coupled with financial news that seemed as immovable to me as a mountain, filled me with so much worry on my celebrated day of birth.

And in that next week, I continued to feel this sense of scrambling emotions so often before it hit me the exact last time I felt like this. It was in those dreaded months leading up to the decision to pursue one of my biggest dreams and attend culinary school at the CIA. I didn’t know if it would happen, or how, just that I wanted it and I had people telling me I could do it. The biggest difference between AL, 22, facing graduation from OSU and AL, 23 and facing graduation from CIA, is that I’m ready for the next part. The career part, where you leave the academic world behind and try and make something of yourself out in the “real world.” Call me naive for being excited about it, but if you have a God like mine, how can you not be?

I have a God who proves the impossible every second of every day. And he chooses us to showcase his power. I have a God who has made it possible for me to attend the CIA. I have a God who has presented financial opportunities to pay for 3/4 of my education at this school thus far. I have a God who has allowed me to travel safely to the other side of the world and learn from a kitchen with incredible chefs and inspire a passion in me to learn more about farm-to-table restaurants with on-site gardens. And I have a God that continues to surprise me every single day. So why is it now, as I face the unknown, that I start to doubt Him?

I realized that I was doubting myself way more than I was doubting Him. My life is proof that He does the unfathomable, but those are all trials that I’ve already walked through. I know how they all turned out already. I don’t know what lies in front of me, and I keep thinking I’m taking that first step into a darkness entirely by myself. And I am alone in stepping forward, yet God has a flashlight ready to point me exactly in the direction He wants me to go…I just have to have the courage to take the first step. Where is that you ask? I haven’t a clue. But I have 5 months and an incredible God to help me figure it out.

So I’m facing my 23rd year with an unknown future but a world of possibilities. And that is pretty exciting. I’ve narrowed down my focus to NYC and Europe, and I’m taking my next steps to see which direction God wants me to focus on. I’ve noticed that I prefer to start my job searches with a location rather than a single restaurant or an individual chef. Maybe it’s just how my mind works, who knows. But I want to spend these last 5 months wisely.

What inspired the ferocious tenacity in your blog post, AL? I started reading a new book: Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson. Here’s my new motto for the next 5 months and beyond.

The Lion Chaser's Manifesto

Excuse me while I start chasing my lion.

With Love,

Sig_Al copy

A trip to NYC x 5

A trip to NYC x 5

In the last two weeks of school, I managed to make it to Big Apple not one, not two, but FIVE. TIMES. Although not all of them were for extended trips, I still marveled at my ability to handle the 2-hr drive that many times that close together. By the end of my multiple journeys, I practically felt like a local!

Albeit, two of those trips were only to the airport and back (drove Seth to catch a flight to Las Vegas, drove to pick up Seth from airport), the other three trips were full of foodie adventures that I had to share.

NYC 5 16The first trip worth mentioning was for the sake of seeing Hans Zimmer at Radio Music Hall. If you DON’T know who Hans Zimmer is, I suppose you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t ever seen a movie…but to help you out, he is a noteworthy music composer who has created some of the most memorable movie scores in cinematic history. Pirates of the Caribbean. Man of Steel. Inception. The Lion King. Dark Knight. The list goes on. He is doing a live tour to showcase his career at the moment, and Seth bought tickets!! Hans came to Melbourne while I was there, but ticket prices were more than my bi-weekly paycheck, so I didn’t see him in the land down under. However I have a boyfriend who is a big fan and wanted to splurge and buy tickets for both of us. NYC 5 38So on a Wednesday night, I wore a new red dress, he wore a suit, and we listened to Hans Zimmer and a 50-person orchestra play through some of the best movie scores in history.

I went back to the city that weekend with some of my classmates. We went on a Sunday, parked near Chelsea Market, and hung out. We walked to City Winery and drank wine, went to Dominique Ansel’s Bakery for pastries, and ended with dinner at Momofuku Noodle Bar. Dominique Ansel is the chef responsible for the creation of the “cronut,” a croissant-and-donut hybrid NYC 5 42that people line up around the block for. Coincidentally this chef actually came and ate at the Royal Mail Hotel with the World’s Best 50 Restaurants committee while I was externing.

School was out for our “summer break” on Thursday, and I was headed back to the city on Friday with Seth, his friend Aaron, and my friend Koryn. We were taking Koryn to the airport, and decided to make it a day trip to the city complete with a walk around Koreatown, Chinatown, a stop at a cooky ice cream shop called Eggloo, and a night at a comedy club. NYC 5 30We even got called out by more than one of the comedians! It was a good time. We had driven to the city, parked in a parking garage in Koreatown, and went about our day. It wasn’t until we got back to that garage a little after midnight that we thought to think about what time the park closed…11pm. We were stuck. Aaron had to work on Saturday at 10:30am, and we had joked about getting him home by 9:30am, and it turned out that’s exactly what we did.

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Ice cream and bubble-wrap-esque waffle cones. Deeeelicious.

We used that emergency credit card to stay the night in a hotel, and were at the parking garage right when it opened at 7am the next day. We sped back to Hyde Park, dropped off Aaron, and after packing up for the break, Seth and I took the train into the city for a long weekend.

NYC 5 41I had just finished reading Gabrielle Hamilton’s book, Blood, Bones, & Butter, so we had our first dinner Saturday night at Prune. First course was a parmesan omelet. Simple and delicious. We each had different main courses, and Seth’s dish won for flavor.

He had the BEST ROASTED CHICKEN I’VE EVER TASTED. THE BEST. SERIOUSLY. It was brined overnight and then roasted and it was magical. I got the roasted rabbit leg with a delicious beetroot salad. But it didn’t hold a candle to that chicken. We also split a side of fried green beans and pickled tomatoes. For the dessert round, I definitely won. Buttered toast with fresh peaches. How simple is that? You wouldn’t think that something so honest and simplistic would be so good, but I hadn’t had anything that succulent in a while. I would’ve eaten 12 more if I could. Oh and Seth got a brown butter cake with plums. But those peaches and toast though… So simple. So good.

NYC 5 45After dinner, we walked around the West Village and went to the Beetle House, a bar after Tim Burton’s own heart. It is a Halloween lover’s paradise, with Tim Burton-esque characters wandering around, including Beetlejuice himself. Next was a hidden bar we stumbled upon. It was only illuminated by the red heart above the door.

The following day, Sunday, we got to go to Hillsong NYC. I’ve now been to two separate campuses on two separate continents! We then wandered around Washington Heights, saw some movie-worthy spots, and ate Artichoke Pizza and authentic Belgian fries.

Sunday night was for Birdland, a jazz club off of Broadway St. Before we made it there for dinner and a show, we stopped for a glass of wine at Don’t Tell Mama, a piano bar/theater in which all of the bartenders are broadway singers.

We had dinner at the jazz club while listening to an Africo-Latin jazz band.

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For our last day, we found breakfast tacos and agua frescas (because it’s a must) and I was treated to a rose petal pedicure. We NYC 5 36wandered through Central Park in the afternoon and then took the subway over the river to Brooklyn for dinner. Olmsted is a restaurant getting a lot of buzz at the moment. Chefs from Atera, a two-Michelin star restaurant, left to open this eatery, complete with a backyard garden and indoor vertical garden walls. After working at the Royal Mail, I have a continued interest in working with restaurants that grow their own produce, so I had it on my list to go here. It is a shared plates style restaurant where you pick a couple items from each category on the menu. We got a bottle of wine and selected our feast.

Our first course was watermelon sushi: cubes of water melon, a thin slice of seafood, a lemon slice, an Asian sauce, and microgreens. NYC 5 1Next was fried fiddlehead ferns with dijonnaise.NYC 5 3 There seemed to be an Asian influence to the menu, especially with the kale and crab rangoons we got with house-made sweet and sour sauce. NYC 5 11This was followed by a smoking dish. It was literally smoking as it was set down in front of us. It was a bluefish and watercress salad with buckwheat crackers. NYC 5 10Our main entree was beef carpaccio with artichokes, plums, and basil.NYC 5 4 As soon as I saw fondue for two on the dessert menu, I HAD to get it…but did I mention that Seth is lactose intolerant? Yet, he still said yes to that dessert. What a trooper!NYC 5 8And we also got what was probably both of our favorites: a pudding cake with fresh berries. As you can tell, we didn’t like it at all…

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The night ended on the rooftop of our hotel as we said goodbye to NYC for a while. The next day we boarded separate planes and made it to our homes safely to enjoy a much needed summer break.

It’s aways a thrill for me to go to the city. I especially enjoyed getting to spend multiple days in the area wandering the streets of multiple burrows and dreaming about what it would be like to live in the city after graduation. I have no idea what God has in store, but I wouldn’t mind being in NYC at all. We’ll see.

With Love,

Sig_Al copy (& Seth) NYC 5 33

My First NYC Stage

My First NYC Stage

On Saturday, July 8, I ventured down to the city with my friend Charley, for my first stage in the city. I was BEYOND thankful to have a friend to make the trip down there with me. We were even able to grab a quick lunch and ride the subway together because our respective stages were so close to each other.

I don’t graduate until January, so finding a job is not that pressing yet, but I am definitely considering staying in NYC (if it’s financially feasible) after graduation. So I though that I’d start seeking out what kind of restaurant I want to work in sooner rather than later.

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My first restaurant to stage at was Riverpark. It is one of Tom Colicchio’s restaurants, and a part of his restaurant group, Crafted, which was at the most recent CIA career fair. After speaking with the HR director at the career fair, I liked the benefits the company offered as well as the bonus that Riverpark has an on-site garden, from which they utilize all produce in their restaurant. Coming from my externship at the Royal Mail, I already know that another restaurant with a garden is something that I’m dying to work with again. However, being in a city as giant and urban as NYC, it seems almost impossible to me. Yet this restaurant has managed to create a garden around their restaurant using about 7,000 milk crates. Functional and moveable. Very interesting.

RIverpark 27Anyways, I arrived for my stage at 3:30pm in black chef pants, non-slip shoes, and knives in tow. After being handed a skull cap, a chef coat, side towels, and an apron, the chef de cuisine gave me a tour of the facility including the garden, front of house, and beer garden. I was most intrigued by the garden, so I would love to go back when the farm crew is working. Unfortunately, it is not the chefs that harvest the produce from the garden, however, they have been known to collect herbs in a rush for service if needed! There is also a larger and actually in-the-ground garden upstate which the farmer and his two assistants are also in charge of.Riverpark 26

Once the tour was over, it was time to help prep for the 5:30pm service. I was given the task of oblique cutting carrots, blanching them, cutting some broccoli rabe into smaller pieces, and oblique cutting potatoes. All very minute tasks, however within the second swipe of my vegetable peeler, I missed the carrot and peeled off a section of my finger instead…so I tried to deal with that as calmly as I could (no one really noticed, even though my heart was pounding), got a bandaid and finger cover, and went back to work. Thankfully, no other injuries took place during my stage.

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Throughout prep I was introduced to the kitchen teams. AM was finishing prep for the next day while the PM crew was setting up their stations for service. Each chef is responsible for a portion of family meal, however they warned me not to eat much if anything at all, because I’d be getting tastings all throughout service. I also was taught how they break down their chickens, which was a pretty interesting and rather difficult process. I just don’t have a big enough hand to hold back the wings back like they wanted me to before you cut the carcass in half.

The restaurant also purchases all their proteins as subprimals, and employs a butcher to portion all the meats that are used in house. He wasn’t there, but it was fascinating to see all the assorted proteins on the speed rack in their walk-in.

Before service really got going, I went station by station to see the cooks’ mise en place and talk to them about why they came to Riverpark. There are actually 3 CIA graduates, all guys, currently working there. Also, the entire PM staff seemed to be quite young, definitely nobody over 30, except for the chef de cuisine.

I tasted my way through the menu and was able to see just about every dish get plated as well. Overall, they had about 125 covers between 5:30pm and 9:30pm, with the rush hitting around 7:30pm. There was never really chaos in the kitchen at any point during service, just a well-oiled machine led by a very calm chef and expeditor.

Every plate sent my way, sans the pasta and scallops, was a full portion, so I was stuffed by the end of service. Eventually the chefs had to help me chow down.

Now here’s a peek of the food!

The first taste I got was of the burrata (fresh cheese), served with pea mash, fresh farm greens, an everything bagel chip, pickled shallots, and togarashi oil (a Japanese spice blend).

Riverpark A1

Next, Big Eye tuna crudo with ginger and shallots, fresh strawberries, pickled green strawberries, black rice crisp, and nasturtium. This green leaf and flower seem to be everywhere right now. It seems to be very present in my culinary life especially, not only because it’s in season, but I was first introduced to this plant in Australia. And now that I’m back for the summer season this side of the world, it’s on every menu in the States. I doubt it’s a new ingredient BUT I feel very cool that I learned all about it in Aussie-land before I realized its popularity back in the States.

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Panna cotta trio: white asparagus & orange, pea & mint, and carrot & cumin.  Riverpark A2

East & West coast oysters…I am slinging back quite a few of these slimy guys recently. They let me try one of each. The east coast oyster was from Hope Island, Rhode Island and the west coast oyster was a Shigoku from Washington. I preferred the west coast.

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The GIANT charcuterie board: duck prosciutto, testa (head cheese), lingua (braised beef tongue), rabbit liver pate, smoked olives, pate de campagne, pickled veggies, whole grain mustard and grilled bread. ALL made in-house, except for the duck prosciutto. WOW. Coming right out of garde manger, I knew how to produce everything on this board.

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There is a pasta section on the menu that serves half and full servings. I was able to try two different ones. Both of which the pasta is made fresh in-house everyday. On the left is squid ink chitarra (thick spaghetti) with braised octopus and calamari. On the right is bigoli (some other type of spaghetti-like noodle) with ramps and walla walla onions.

One of my favorites to taste and see: roasted white asparagus with lemon confit, wood sorrel and bottarga, a new ingredient to me. It is salted, cured fish roe. They shaved it on top of the dish at final plating.  It paired well with the bitter and sour flavors of the lemon. Beautiful dish.

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My first taste of the entrees section of the menu: grilled chicken with nettles (another ingredient I learned about in Australia), kohlrabi, hon shimeji mushrooms, and whole wheat spaetzle. The spaetzle was my favorite part.

Riverpark A3

I’m a sucker for scallops, so this dish was also one of my favorites: roasted diver scallops with corn, basil, heirloom tomato confit, and green garlic. I got a half portion, but the full portion came with four scallops.

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A bacon-wrapped rabbit loin, with cornbread stuffing, baby carrots, peas, and cipollini onions.

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A beautifully-plated dish: spiced baby octopus with peas, radish, carrot, lime, and cilantro. The ginger-pea cream sauce that’s dotted in the shell reminded me of horseradish. Did you notice it is dots of sauce instead of peas? Look closely. Riverpark A5

Brook Trout served with a salad of cherries, cucumbers, almonds, dill, and two deep fried quenelles of grits.

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Crispy sweetbreads with ramps and a coddled farm egg.

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Whole roasted Dorade with sugar snap panzanella, pickled ramps, and marinated white anchovies.

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Grilled lamb rack with broccoli, pine nuts, golden raisins and bulgar.

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Imperial wagyu bavette, grilled asparagus, potato gratin, and hen of the woods mushrooms.

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Another eye-pleasing dish: saffron poached skate with summer squash, carrots, pole beans, nage, and lemon verbena tuile.

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I was even given two different desserts!

The first was called “cereal & milk” and consisted of a chocolate ganache cake, caramelized rice puffs and vanilla malt in a perfect dome chocolate shell. You crack it with your spoon and then go to town on the best bowl of cereal ever.

Riverpark 1

Last was an olive oil cake with fresh strawberries and strawberry black pepper ice cream.

Riverpark A6

I had a chat with the chef de cuisine after service was pretty much over, and he said I was free to go at anytime, but I asked to stay and help clean. I didn’t do much to prep, and I had just observed the entire service, so I was itching to do something useful, so why not get my hands dirty? They seemed very grateful/surprised that I stayed, but put me to work anyways. The dish pit was down one dishwasher, but when I volunteered to help, all the chefs protested that they wouldn’t let me be in the dish room unless I was on the payroll. So after the line was broken down, I said my goodbyes and thanked them all for a great stage. All the chefs were nice, easy-going, and worked well together. I ended my first stage in the city with increased confidence, and the possibility of a job there in January. We’ll see, but I will definitely be staying in touch.

I have another stage in the city at the end of July, so finger’s crossed that that one goes as well or better than this one!

With Love,

Sig_Al copy

A Poppin’ 4th of July

A Poppin’ 4th of July

Happy Birthday America! CIA graciously gave its students Tuesday, July 4th, off, and Seth and I took it as an opportunity to explore. We ended up in Boston! The city has a fantastic fireworks show called Boston Pops! that also happens to be free, so we spent the holiday wandering around the city, eating food OF COURSE, and watching the pretty light show.

Boston 16

We left Monday right after class and got there by late afternoon. We walked around a neighborhood with brownstones, admired all the doors and million-dollar homes, then went to dinner at B&G Oyster House. I am not a fan of oysters (still remembering the tiny live crab someone found inside their oyster in Fish Class), but Seth loves them, and we were right next to the harbor, so I shut up and slurped ’em down. Boston 14Despite getting some shell fragments every now and then, I didn’t not like them? All the sauces helped for sure. The smoked mussels were my favorite! We split the scallops for our main course.

Boston 13After dinner we grabbed a cocktail at a speakeasy with an unmarked door above a restaurant. It reminded me of the bars we found in Melbourne behind random doors.


Tuesday we walked around the Boston Harbor, saw some giant boats and fancy yachts, and sang the melody of the Pirates of the Caribbean when the older ships floated by. We also did the tourist-iest thing possible and threw some tea into the harbor, tea bag and all!

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Lunch was fantastic and decadent and creamy and so so satisfying:

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A hot buttered lobster roll and New England clam chowda in a bread bowl. Both from the Quincy Market! It was here that we randomly stumbled into our friends Adam and Victoria who also happened to be in Boston for the 4th. Adam sneakily followed my snapchat story and found us while we were taking a bite out of heaven.

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The rest of the day consisted of walking around through downtown Boston/Beacon Hill waiting on the fireworks. We were tired, full, and desperately wanted a nap, but we persisted! Seating for the fireworks show opened at 5pm, and I directed us to the Boston Commons to get a good seat…it was after walking through the entire park that I realized that was NOT where the fireworks/free concert would be….so I just made us more tired and a little lost. Good thing we had GPS and Seth is a calm and understanding person…Boston 2

When we made it to the correct location, it was already filling up fast, but we made a bee line for the food, and then found a spot by the water. We stayed for a few of the first acts, but then decided to leave in order to beat the traffic. We ended the evening and the holiday, watching a giant fireworks display on top of a parking garage on the outside of downtown.



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A beautiful and fun-filled 4th it was.

With Love,

Sig_Al copy

Pickles, Burgers, and a Sunrise

Pickles, Burgers, and a Sunrise

The second class post-extern that you take at the CIA is garde manger. It is a class that focuses on the cold production kitchen. You learn about preservation, pickling, sausage-making, terrines, and more; all things that require time and are usually served cold or room temperature.

We began our first week of class with pickling, curing, and smoking. My team was put in charge of pickled beets and pickled vegetables. We waited for everyone else to grab their assigned veggies before we grabbed randomly from what was left…It ended up being enough carrots, cauliflower, and zucchini to fill about 14 jars.

June 9

Other teams pickled cucumbers (both spicy and sweet), different peppers (fresno and jalapeño), ginger, corn, fennel, blackberries, grapes…enough to fill every jar in the kitchen.

For curing and smoking, each team was in charge of a different protein like chicken or ham or beef, as well as smoked salmon, gravlax (cured salmon), and BACON.June 5My team made tasso ham: pork that has been salt-cured, and then dry-rubbed with a spice blend before it is smoked.

June 26We also learned some random things like how to make faux caviar. We made ours with beetroot and carrot juices.

After we do about four days of production, we have a buffet. It’s the best way for everyone to get to taste everything, and it’s also to practice setting the buffet we will be putting on for the AOS graduation at the end of the block.



June 27
And this was just after four days of class!

During our second week, we took on forcemeats. The utilization of offal in cooking is definitely not new, but I still question it a little sometime, however I will always try it!

We didn’t use anything too strange though, just a lot of liver. And fatback, but that’s not offal (the inner organs of an animal). We ground meat for sausage, we stuffed sausage, we poached sausage, we smoked sausage, and MAN we ate sausage.

The other forecemeats we made were pate en croute, terrines, and chicken galantine.

For the pate en croute, June 1we ground pork with seared chicken livers before combining it with some fatback, black truffle shavings, and pistachios to form a paste. The item itself literally means “paste in crust,” in French, and is a forcemeat that is baked in the oven inside of a buttery, flaky dough that has been egg-washed. There are these holes we punctured in the top that allow for air flow and even baking, but will also give us a space to pour aspic into later (consomme that has been set with gelatin). It is a very classic French garde manger practice, very rich and decadent, as is the French way. June 2

Chicken galantine is essentially the same type of paste-making process, but instead of wrapping it up in a crust, you wrap it back up in the chicken’s skin from which you took the meat.

You then wrap it up in cheesecloth and secure it as tightly as you can before poaching the log in chicken stock.

One of my favorite moments thus far has been having the opportunity to make a torchon. It is foie gras (duck or goose liver) that’s been cleaned and rolled as tightly as possible, traditionally in a side towel, but we used cheesecloth. It’s poached for seconds and then hung to keep its perfectly cylindrical shape. Another rather indulgent French practice due to the fact that one duck liver costs about $60, wholesale and prefabricated.

I’ve gotten used to waking up for class at 6am everyday, but I’m still not used to waking up that early on weekends. This past Saturday I got up early and headed to work. I assisted a chef instructor with teaching a class about spring in the Hudson Valley to 16 adults.

June 25There were three teams that all prepared a different menu, and in the end we put all the food together to make a lunch buffet. This menu consisted of ribeye, foie gras, and black seabass, so you could say I ate rather well that day.

Sunday started early as well. 3:30am early. If you remember last year for the 4th of July, I went on a sunrise hike with some of my new CIA lady friends. And this year, we repeated that summit up Mt. Beacon to greet the morning sun.

June 21

Not soon after returning from the magic on the mountain, we had to set up for the Burger Bash! CCF had a snow cone stand, and I got to hang out with two of my favorite OSU/CIA all-stars.


June 4

I ended my weekend with some much needed sleep. It was a busy busy weekend after an equally busy week, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

With Love,

Sig_Al copy


Mountain Jammin’

Mountain Jammin’

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This past weekend I went to Mountain Jam! A festival on a mountain in the Catskills, about an hour from the CIA. Seth got the tickets as a surprise gift for me after coming back from Australia, and the time finally came for the concert! The biggest headliner was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, along with other awesome people like Gary Clark Jr, the Ghost of Paul Revere, Band of Heathens, and my favorite of the day: St. Paul and the Broken Bones. And then this weirdo named Matisayhu.

Festival Food: Burger + Dog Bowl of Fries and tacos OF COURSE

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Seth joined Team Chaco

If you haven’t heard of any of those names, just picture a guy rocking out on a harmonica, followed by some good old blues playing from an electric guitar. All feel good, chill out tunes. It was supposed to rain, but it ended up being a rather perfect day on Hunter Mountain.

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Since Hunter Mountain is a ski mountain in the winter, the ski lift was available and open for a ride above the whole festival!

In food-related news, I have finished my first class post-extern, Baking Skills, in which our final project was a plated dessert featuring a poached pear. It was a pretty fun project, in that I got to show off my new rocher skills, and used a couple recipes I learned at the Royal Mail to make it! I also got to talk to most of the people at the Royal Mail back in Australia for a few minutes this past weekend, and it made my day! My team and I made a chai tea-poached pear, orange chocolate ganache, meringue kisses, chocolate soil and vanilla ice cream.

Mtn jam 1

I am now in garde manger, a class focusing on smoking, curing, brining, and charcuterie. It’s been pretty interesting so far: Today we began the curing process for bacon, smoked salmon, and gravlax. And also tried yellow watermelon. Delicious!

Mtn jam 2

With Love,

Sig_Al copyMtn jam 10


An update on Love

An update on Love

It’s been a while. And for some reason, I felt like I haven’t done anything exciting enough to write a blog about, so it has left me feeling uninspired. However, I did make it back to the States safely. And I got to spend some good quality time with my friends and family in both Texas and Oklahoma. I also came back to New York and started my 4th term at the CIA! All things that happened in such a short amount of time that I chose to focus solely on each moment with my loved ones, and that left little time to write about it.

However, I do still want this blog to continue, so I thought I would pick it back up with an update on my word for the year. If you remember, my word for 2016 was Bold. And it was incredible to witness how much God used this word in my life over the course of an entire year. For 2017, I chose the word Love. And shortly after I chose this, I moved halfway across the world and started a very challenging yet exciting job in Australia.

The most difficult part about my entire experience was not being able to go to church. I don’t think people often realize how much of a privilege it is to be able to go. I definitely didn’t. And not just that, but I did not have a Christian community to talk about my faith with and push me to keep pursuing Him.

So after a while, my quiet time routine stopped. And my good habits faded away. I’m not saying that I fell away from God or anything, but I definitely felt emptier in that area of my life.

And as I came back to the States, to my home in the Bible Belt, and to some of my closest friends, I felt that void even more. I tell you all this to say, that I have not learned much about my word for the year, because I’m having a hard time hearing what God wants to teach me. And it’s a little heartbreaking and very very aggravating. I’m just upset with myself for letting my faith go to the wayside.

However, as a plus to this irritating situation I put myself in, I’m not sure I’ve ever felt quite a hunger for knowing more of His Word than I do right now. And I know that is a step in the right direction.

So from here on out, I’ll be learning more about Love. And hopefully a lot more about God’s Love. Please pray for me.

Here are a few snapshots of life since my last post (captions on each pic).

There is a lot that can happen over the next 8 months between now and graduation, and I look forward to seeing what God has in store. I promise to keep you posted.

With Love,