Louisville Magazine

AUG 2015

Louisville Magazine is Louisville's city magazine, covering Louisville people, lifestyles, politics, sports, restaurants, entertainment and homes. Includes a monthly calendar of events.

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106 LOUISVILLE MAGAZINE 8.15 Sautéed halibut with lobster, corn and country ham hash the end of the hall from the school's kitchens. Fresh tulips stand in vases on each of the 15 or so tables during Friday and Saturday lunch and dinner and Sunday brunch. Warm bread arrives from across the street at Sullivan's Bakery. Student-prepared items range from seafood frittata and a Philippine noodle dish, pancit, during lunch to smoked duck, sea bass and seared scallops at dinner. Working in a restaurant — even if it's just washing dishes — is what most of Sullivan's culinary students do, not only to help cover the program's $60,000 sticker price but also to get the fast- paced experience. "If I were to call a mandatory meeting Friday night at 7 o'clock, I could close down the restaurant industry in Louisville," school chancellor Al Sullivan says. "So many of our kids are working in the restaurants." Kathy Cary, chef-owner of Lilly's, says she has had Sullivan students and grads in her kitchen over the years. She says some students have not worked out and others have been excellent. "Just like in anything — the ones who are passionate about the food business and have a strong work ethic have been amazing members of our team," she says. She says that she doesn't think the school's Louisville presence has afected her business, considering workers come from other programs, like Jeferson Community and Technical College, and from schools throughout the country (Johnson & Wales and the Culinary Institute of America are Sullivan's biggest competitors). And a lot of Sullivan students don't stay in Louisville. And then there's this question: Why even spend money on a culinary degree? Instead, why not get a job in a kitchen as a teenager and work up through the ranks? After all, Louisville's most famous chef, Edward Lee, doesn't have a culinary degree. "I see it all the time," Akmon says. "Students will work somewhere and they'll have a chef — chefs are characteristically egotistical — and he'll say 'Ahh, you're wasting your money. I can teach you everything you need to know.' And it goes back to that whole foundational thing. Tey can teach you everything you need to know for that one place. "Is real-life experience important? Absolutely," Akmon says. "Sometimes you just learn how over there. But if you don't fully understand the why, you're handicapped." Akmon introduces me to frst-quarter student Chris Sapp after he gets on the 25-year-old for not wearing his neckerchief. Sapp, who's from Brandenburg, Kentucky, says that his grandmother and great-grandmother both had restaurants. He grew up cooking Italian food, Southern food, pork chops and "breaded anything." He and his uncle both enrolled in school with the idea of starting a restaurant together, and Sapp says he'd also consider a position in a four- or fve-star French restaurant. "I'd like to work somewhere like that as like a line cook," Sapp says, "and maybe work my way up to being a chef somewhere." Sapp says he didn't expect the French aspect of culinary school. Most of the training is built on the foundation that early-19th-century chef Marie-Antoine Carême established and that 20th-century chef Auguste Escofer modernized, which includes the mother sauces — béchamel, espagnole, velouté, hollandaise and tomate. "Garde manger," also a course title, translates to "cold kitchen" and refers to basic techniques in food preparation: dressings, appetizers, pasta from scratch, cured meats. "Just because you put something in the oven doesn't mean you're baking it," Sapp says. "Before, I thought it was: You put it on the stove or you put it in the oven. I didn't know the terminology and all that. In these four or fve months, I understand food." Not all students have Sapp's vocational experience; many have just begun to cook. "I can't tell you how many kids we've had pass can't do that anymore. But we expect them to work hard and we expect them to want to be here," the chef says. "Te big question is: Why are you coming here? Is it because you sat around and watched the Food Network all summer long and your parents told you you had to go to school? Because if that's the case, then you don't even know if this is for you. Very few are gonna make it on TV. "In the frst week, they cut carrots for three days straight. And some of (the students) are like, 'Ugh, I'm tired of cutting carrots.' Guess what?! You're buying into a career of carrot-cutting." He says that a lot of the younger students have worked in kitchens or are coming out of high school vocational programs, so they already have an idea that this is what they want to do. "In Switzerland, people say, 'It's good enough for my grandfather, it's good enough for me.' Tey're going to make béchamel sauce a thousand times and on that thousand and frst time, they're just as proud to make it and just as caring about it," Akmon says. "Whereas, here in the United States, once they make something once or twice, they go, 'Yeah, that's enough. I've already done that' without really actually mastering it. Tat's one of the diferences with our program and some of the programs around the country is we focus on the foundations." Te majority of culinary students live on campus in a former Holiday Inn. During required internships (some paid, others not), Akmon encourages students to try to secure employment before they graduate. Students work in kitchens in New York City, New Orleans and Las Vegas. Fourteen currently work at Vegas' Cosmopolitan. Some work in the Winston's kitchen (that internship is unpaid), which is a constant rotation of entering and exiting students. (It's named after Winston Shelton of Winston Industries, which manufactured kitchen equipment for KFC during the fast-food chain's years at Sullivan.) Te white- tablecloth restaurant is connected to the school's main building at

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