Interview with Culinary Student Karly Krentz
A few weeks ago I announced the recipient of the 3rd Reluctant Gourmet culinary school grant in association with Chef4Students.org. Her name is Karly Krentz and she is attending the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education in Grand Rapids, MI. You can read the announcement and learn a little more about Karly at Reluctant Gourmet Culinary Grant Winner Karly Krentz.
I wanted to learn more about Karly and how she decided to attend culinary school and pick Secchia Institute so I asked her to participate in my Novice2Student interview. If you are thinking about going to culinary school and want to learn more about the process of choosing a school and applying to get in, I think you will find this interview useful. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.
I also asked Karly to update us every once in a while about her adventures in culinary school and I will start a new post that I can update as I receive updates from Karly. Stay tuned.
Interview with Karly Krentz
Can you remember your very first culinary class in high school? Did you immediately know that this was something you'd be interested in?
My first culinary class in high school was just for fun. I never thought that it would turn into a career for me. I knew that I was interested in cooking, but I never expected to end up in culinary school because of this class. My mind did not change until my competition team in high school took second place at he national competition. I then realized this was what I wanted to do as a career.
What do you think is the most important lesson you learned from your classes at Fruitport High School?
The most important lesson I learned was definitely team work! I learned how to be a good team member and to do my part. I also had to learn to trust others to do what they were supposed to do.
When and how did you decide to attend culinary school?
I decided to attend culinary school because of the competition team that I was a part of. I was very excited to be a part of the team. Every experience on the team caused me to enjoy the culinary arts field more and more. This lead me to making the decision to make culinary arts my career and to attend culinary school.
When you were deciding on which schools to apply to, what were you looking for?
My plan for going to culinary school was to attend New England Culinary institute, because of the scholarship I received. There was not much searching involved for me until I talked to the program director at Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. He suggested that we take a tour of his school. I basically looked for somewhere that I felt comfortable.
Affordability was also an important decision maker. I also talked to some chefs that I knew and asked for their opinions on the schools.
Can you tell us a little bit about the application process? What advice can you give future applicants about the process?
The application process is different for every school. Some you fill out an application and write an essay along with turning in letters of recommendation. Other schools just require the application.
When I took the tour of Secchia Institute for Culinary Education I had no intentions of actually going there. I was set on going to New England Culinary Institute. As we took the tour, I realized this was where I wanted to be. All of the chefs were very friendly and I could tell that they genuinely cared about their students. I loved the environment.
How does culinary school compare to your culinary classes in high school?
In high school my culinary arts class was held in a small classroom with 4 50's style kitchens. At culinary school everything is commercial grade. The equipment at high school was nothing compared to what I am able to work with now. In high school we covered a small portion of every area of the culinary industry, but in culinary school we have classes devoted to each individual area, and we learn in depth lessons on each area of the industry.
What is a typical day like for you in culinary school?
A typical day at culinary school is different depending on the classes that you take. I am in a bakery class at this point in my studies. This class is held Monday through Friday from 7 am to 12 pm. In this class we bake breads, muffins, cookies, etc. every day. As I progress in the program, I will work in our schools restaurant serving and cooking.
What are some of the standout lessons you've learned since beginning culinary school?
Since the beginning of culinary school I have learned a lot about how important confidence is. When you don't have confidence you step back and miss out on learning. Also you will never get better if you don't think you can do it.
What are some of the challenges of culinary school that you face on a daily basis? How do you work to overcome them?
Overcoming mistakes is the hardest thing for me. I never want to mess anything up, and it is bound to happen. A lot of times the mistakes can be fixed and it turns into a learning experience.
What advice can you give to young people still in high school who are looking to go to culinary school?
I would totally recommend looking into culinary schools. If you are not into school, it's nice because a lot of the learning is hands on. I would recommend looking around at the best option for culinary school for the individual. Sometimes you are able to get just as good of an education from a school that is less expensive.
Also it is very important to take your classes seriously. Your teachers are the ones who will write letters of recommendations for you. Chefs know other chefs and if someone asks about you, you want them to give a good recommendation. If you don't take classes seriously culinary school will not be beneficial for you.
What are your favorite cookbooks and are there any you highly recommend to someone thinking of becoming a professional cook?
Usually I get my recipes from the internet or from family recipes and I adjust them for what I need. For one of my classes we used the On Cooking textbook. I really liked it because it has a basic recipe for a broad range of items. That way it is easy to change it up for how you want it.
What does it mean to you to be selected out of more than 1350 applicants to receive The Reluctant Gourmet Culinary Grant in association with Chefs4Students.org?
I am honored that I was chosen out of all of the other students. When I received the phone call telling me that I had won, I was completely surprised. When I learned that there were 1350 applicants, I was shocked and unbelievably grateful. I want to thank chefs4students.org for their grant program, as well as The Reluctant Gourmet for the sponsorship of my grant! You don't know how much this means to me. I am so thankful for all you do.
What are your career goals for after you graduate culinary school?
After I graduate culinary school I would really like to work in the industry to receive more experience. After that I would like to teach either in a technical center or at a culinary school. I would really like to pass on my knowledge as I continue to learn.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now with regard to your career as a chef?
In ten years I see myself as a teacher in either a technical center or at a culinary school. I would like to be coaching a culinary team as well, so I can pass on what I was able to learn in my two years on the culinary arts team I was a member of.
And lastly, what are a few of your personal favorite recipes?
My first year on the culinary team we made coriander seared sea scallops in a tomato chardonnay sauce with a pickled vegetable and shrimp salad. That is probably my favorite dish that I have made. I also love my great grandmas recipe for German chocolate cake.