After the Bubble bursts

Lou E. Perella, Class of ’06

After Lawrence, I became a hall director at a small school in Bristol, Va. I saw the school as a stepping stone to a career in residence life, or a way to earn some money for culinary school while living and eating for free. After realizing that this particular school was not the place for me, I applied to the Culinary Institute of America, or CIA, in March of 2007 and was accepted to start my culinary education at the beginning of 2008. A new year and a new endeavor.
Now, if you want to lose some weight, go to culinary school. Since starting, I have consumed lavish dishes laced with excessive amounts of butter and salt yet somehow have lost close to 40 pounds. Don’t ask me how. If weight loss isn’t your thing then become a baker!
The best part about culinary school is how much you learn. The learning curve with cooking is always steep. Like music, you can only improve your skills with practice. However, in order to truly master your craft, you need to learn about all the variables when you cook, including cellular structure of ingredients, chemical reactions, flavor profiles before and after cooking, etc.
Furthermore, it is of great interest to cooks as to why people taste the way they do. No two people taste food the same way and no two palates are the same. Everyone may have the same five tastes – bitter, sweet, salty, sour and umami – but everyone also tastes them differently. Trying to accommodate every person is the most exciting challenge of cooking. The one thing you realize is the power of salt and butter. “Fat equals flavor” is what the chefs say. Ask a chef to critique your dish and his or her response will always be “More salt.”
Upon finishing the first year, all students are required to complete an 18-week externship at any restaurant they choose. My choice was a restaurant in Tucson, Ariz. called Primo which promoted seasonal, local and sustainable cuisine. It specializes in Mediterranean cuisine with an emphasis on Italian. Here, I was able to hone my knife skills, timing and cooking techniques while learning about the importance of seasonal and sustainable foods in society today. Primo promotes the best cuisine while limiting its carbon footprint on the Earth by growing some of its own food.
Buy local. Eat seasonally. Go to farmer’s markets and talk to growers about their practices. Make sure you learn about the garden on campus and talk to those maintaining it. When you learn about where your food really comes from your eyes will be opened to how to truly eat healthy. Carbs aren’t the problem – chemicals are.
One thing I have noticed since leaving Appleton is that no other school has come anywhere close to competing with the community developed on the Lawrence campus. Seeing residence life departments from three different perspectives, as a student, RLA, and RHD, has shown me that most schools don’t put nearly as much effort into building community as Lawrence does. RLAs are not nearly as devoted to students. They don’t program as much, they don’t interact as much, and they don’t put in half of the effort your RLAs do.
Don’t take for granted all of the things Lawrence has to offer. Don’t miss concerts, comedians, jam sessions, midnight drum sessions, parties, playing ultimate, streaking, the VR, Ormsby zoo days, or anything else this community has to offer. I promise that you will not see these things offered as plentifully as they are at Lawrence. Most schools don’t even let you have a guitar or pet of any kind on campus. There is no encouragement to develop your own personality. Oh, and run for class president. You get to meet Lyndsay Hansen and knowing her is worth a career at Lawrence in itself. Just see if you can try to out-campaign me, though.