Ever considered scrapping your i-banking ambitions in favor of a less traditional (read: more awesome) career? In high school, Peter Roodhouse was the guy who started barbecuing for his hungry (read: inebriated) classmates at the graduation party. His matriculation into the Culinary Institute of America the next fall came as no surprise to his friends. Living a completely different kind of college life in Hyde Park, NY, Peter has chefs as professors, acts as cafeteria cook for his peers on occasion and spends his class time learning the difference between New England Clam Chowder and Manhattan Clam Chowder. Don't get us wrong; it's not all fun and games. Imagine arguing a grade with one of the top chefs in the world over a hot stove.
Street: What's it like learning about food all day?
Peter Roodhouse: Pretty interesting. For your first two years, you're almost always in the kitchen. You learn basic stuff like menu development, how to make use of certain ingredients, new recipes, stuff like that. It can be fun, but every chef is different. You never know what to expect; they all have that kind of "my way or get out of my kitchen" attitude.
Street: Do you have a meal plan?
PR: Sort of. This is the one of the coolest parts of my school. Once you get up to the Skills 3 level of a class, you get to work for the "production kitchen" and basically cook for students on campus. Also, there are places on campus that'll give you a three-course gourmet meal for a single swipe of your meal card.
Street: Ever get to cook for yourself?
PR: Not really. When I get back from class I usually have to plan out what I'm going to make for the next day.
Street: We're focusing on comfort food this week. Any gourmet suggestions?
PR: It's funny, when I think of comfort food I think of my mom's chicken pot pie, tuna melts or grilled cheese. Easy stuff that doesn't really have anything to do with what I learn in class. I used to sell grilled cheese out of my dorm room for a dollar. Tin foil and an ironing board. So crispy and good.
Street: What's your favorite dish that you've ever made?
PR: I love my roasted chicken. But this one time we made stuffed rabbit legs, deboned in a classic Italian style. You stuff 'em with herbs, panfry them and then roast them. We served it with carrots, turnips and mashed potatoes and a little rabbit liver paté on the side.
Street: Sounds amazing. What do you think you've taken away from this experience?
PR: It's definitely taught me to appreciate food of all kinds. I'm such a food geek. And as much as I love cooking food, I definitely love eating it more. Doesn't matter where it comes from. If it's prepared correctly, I'm probably going to like it.