I happily greet Chef Ray in the elevator, proud I have arrived early to set up my mise en place (meaning everything put in its place) and eager to make a good impression. I casually inquire about his weekend and accidently lean on the emergency button, sounding the alarm, creating an incredibly awkward moment for both of us. The loud beep mocks me as we ride up three floors in silence.
It’s impossible to write about people who cook without submerging yourself in the culture. The process hits you with hurricane force winds and begins to change the way in which you see yourself as well as your perception of the world around you. By week three, I learn to move with an efficiency and speed. I learn to be mindful of heat, fire and steel. Most importantly, I learn to man up. Be smarter, faster and tougher.