I had one of those infamous lightbulb moments a few months ago. I was deep in the middle of a bout of winter-related blues (which, thankfully, have been all but erased thanks to my light therapy box) and I decided it was time to do something about it instead of wallowing in my unhappiness. I started thinking about what really got me excited in life and what hobbies and interests I wanted to have as part of my day going forward. I figured if I focused on those, instead of my case of the blues, I could pull myself out of the funk. While thinking about what I love to do, I landed on an obvious truth: I’m passionate about real (mostly healthy) food. I love eating it. I love writing about it. I love looking at it. I love creating it. I love sharing it with my friends and family.
And I realized, I could be doing a lot more to explore this passion.
Writing this blog, and focusing mostly on food and recipes, has given me an amazing group of opportunities related to food. I started writing about my wellness journey as just a way to get out all the emotional yuck that comes along with a major lifestyle change. But over the past 18 months, writing Wholefully has unlocked something inside of me that I didn’t know existed. Sure, I was always a foodie. I grew up in a family of foodies. We bonded over shared meals and recipes. I knew I loved creating in the kitchen, but it wasn’t really until I started sharing those creations here that I realized this was something I wanted to make into a gig (and possibly a future career).
When some big companies and publications began to recognize my passion and ask me to work with them, a thought formed in my head that maybe it was possible to live in a world where someone actually paid me to play with food all day. And just the thought of that made a smile creep across my face.
So back to that lightbulb moment, I’m not sure why it took me so long to make the jump from a career in food to necessary education, but one day a few months ago a thought popped into my head: culinary school. I started to research the possibilities and suddenly got incredibly excited about the prospect of getting professionally trained in my hobby. I was nervous to tell Babyface because it would be a big life change, but the second I mentioned it, he turned to me and said, “I absolutely love the idea of you in culinary school. I can’t imagine anything that’d make you happier.” And that was that.
I’m going to culinary school!
After a lot of discussion about the best program, I chose to attend Ivy Tech Community College. The price was right, the proximity was right (I can literally see the campus from my back door) and I’d heard amazing things about the program from graduates, especially because Ivy Tech focuses on the non-traditional college student (read: me). There are a ton of great resources for students who work full-time, having families and haven’t been in school in a while. I’m excited to get the most out of my program, and I think my family and I can both thrive during my program at Ivy Tech (without going into debt, woohoo!).
The process will be slow—I’m going part-time so I can keep my awesome day job—but I’m giddy with excitement to get in the classroom and kitchen and learn proper techniques and training. I’m also looking forward to the doors that having a culinary arts degree will open for me. I don’t think I want to be a restaurant chef (although, interning in a working restaurant kitchen is part of the final semester), but I do want to be an authority on all things food for Wholefully and any future opportunities I get. Ultimately, I’d love to be a professional recipe developer, creating flavorful dishes for major brands and publications and maybe even write a cookbook! But that’s probably a bit down the road. I’ll focus on my training first and enjoy every second of learning about my passion.
I started classes last week. I’m beginning my program with two primer classes on nutrition (fun) and food safety (not so fun, but important). Speaking of nutrition, the program I chose is a classic culinary arts tract. Which means it’s full of a lot of butter, meats and flavorful yumminess. Eventually, I’d like to find a certificate program—there is a great one through Cornell—that gives me more education about real-food nutrition. I’m not interested in going the traditional registered dietician path (I don’t agree with the concept of nutritionism, and that is mostly what is taught in today’s RD programs), but I am interested in learning more about how to fuel our bodies properly.
I’d by lying if I said I wasn’t nervous to go back to school. I took one graduate class in 2009 and it about killed me, but before that, I hadn’t been in school since 2005. It’ll definitely be an adjustment fitting in school, work, freelance projects, Wholefully, family and, you know, the ever important episode binges of The Vampire Diaries. But I tend to thrive when I’m busy, so hopefully this will end up with me thriving. One thing that will be changing (and you may have noticed it already) is that my posting schedule will adjust for Wholefully. Instead of my normal 12 posts a week, I’ll probably be knocking down to around eight a week, without any posts on the weekends. The weekends are pretty dead here on the blog anyway, and it’s a great time to catch up on homework and spend time with my favorite ‘faces. I hope that the content on Wholefully will remain strong. And definitely expect a constant update on what I’m learning and doing in my program.
Thank you all so much for supporting me and giving me the confidence to pursue this. Without your encouragement, it would have never even occurred to me that a career in food was possible. Thank you, from the bottom of my food-loving heart. <3 I hope you’ll stick around to hear about my adventures in culinary school!