Friday, September 4th was the PCK (professional cooking) orientation. The days leading up to it I
may have definitely suffered a bit of anxiety. Thoughts like “what am I doing”, and “I’m too old for this” went around and around in my head.
Most of my adult life I have been self employed. Doing my dream job, and making a really great living at it. I have been 100% in control of my schedule, no time clock to punch, vacation days – as many as I wanted, whenever I wanted, and I have had so many years (18 and counting) of exciting adventures because of my photography work. I am sure there are people who think I am crazy to think about stepping back from that, even just a little. The thing is, life is short. I love to learn, and I love to challenge myself. I have always known I would go back to school someday. I never really knew what for exactly, as I have so many interests. I knew I wanted to take something that would further my knowledge in something I love, but also create opportunities for me, if I decide to make a career change some day.
Early spring of 2014, work was slow, as it typically is that time of year. I was getting a little bored with waiting for things to pick up, and started looking through the local university and college websites. Thinking I would take some part time classes, to pass the time. That led me to looking into cooking classes. I was thinking how fun it would be to learn some new cooking skills. I am just as passionate about food, as I am about photography, so that seemed like a good fit. In the process I came across SAITS full time cooking program. I read everything I could about it, and on a whim sent in an application, and then forgot about it, never thinking I would actually get a spot.
Some 4-5 weeks later an acceptance letter came in the mail. I had a month to accept the spot, or turn it down. The idea of going back to school full time, both excited and terrified me. Seeing that the start date was only 4 months away, “terrified” took over. I knew I already had a pretty full schedule for my business that fall. I started asking around and the consensus from others who took the program, or similar programs, was that it would be really difficult to manage both a full time business and full time school, nearly impossible to do really well at both.
I decided to turn down the spot and reapply fall 2014, for the fall 2015 start. I figured that this would give me time to prepare. Time to see through all my current commitments to clients. Time to slow my business down, and figure out how the heck I was going to fit full time school into our family’s very busy life.
Fall 2014 I reapplied, and was accepted again. It still terrified me. Haha! I came up with every excuse possible as to why it would not work out. To my husbands credit, he shot every excuse down with “WE will figure it out. It will work out”. I came up with more excuses, he wouldn’t hear any of them. That kind of support… I can never express how grateful I am to have a husband who is this supportive.
Why culinary school? Well, as I mentioned above, I am passionate about food. If you know me, you know this to be true. Also, we talk about one day, when we leave Calgary, what then? I like to have things to do. Not working in one way or another is not an option for me. I know I won’t start another photography business. The way the industry is now, rebuilding my business from scratch, in a new place, is just not something I’m interested in doing. Professional cooking offers opportunity anywhere in the world. Seriously. My program has a 100% employment rate. I love the idea that I will have something in my pocket, that offers limitless opportunity. Plus, I find cooking to be a beautiful, challenging and creative art form.
By the end of orientation yesterday I was so excited. I know without at doubt I am in the right place. This experience is going to be such a great adventure, if I let it be. Hard work for sure. The rules for attendance are merciless. Late to class and you lose 5% of your final grade, each and every time. More than 15 minutes late for class and its 10%. Miss more than two classes and you fail that course, and have to take it over. The mornings, those terrify me. One class starts at 6:30 am, 6:30 AM!!!! This will require leaving my house by 5:30 am. I am so not a morning person, they promise that by the end of this program, I will be. I will believe that, when I see it. Ha!
The volunteer opportunities available through the program seem super interesting. They range from working in the schools memorial garden and greenhouse, to working alongside the chef instructors, creating amazing meals for fundraising events. There are opportunities to assist at evening cooking classes, that the faculty offers to the general public. There is also a work/study tour. Its going to be to Spain and Portugal next spring. Yes, that’s right, a food and wine tour to SPAIN AND PORTUGAL!!! I’ve got everything crossed, hoping I can get a spot on that.
Sait Main Campus.
While I have no idea what will come of these next two years in school, I am choosing to just take it in. Put no pressure on myself for what is next, and just let whatever is meant to be, evolve naturally. For those who may be wondering; will I quit photography while we are still in Calgary? No. Never. I love my clients too much, and will be their photographer for as long as they want me to be. Due to the size of my previous client base, I will be taking on a very minimal amount of new clients though. I need to ensure that I don’t spread myself too thin.
I’m hoping to use this blog as a sort of journal while I am in school. Realistically, we all know how awful I am at blogging, so I make no promises there.