I can’t believe it, but I have already been in culinary school at the Natural Gourmet institute (NGI) for over 6 weeks now! Over the course of that time we have simmered, poached, baked, sautéed, sweated, boiled, scrambled, steamed, blanched, mixed, toasted and broiled some of the most amazing food that I have ever made or had. I have also eaten more grains, seaweed, vegetables and seitan than a girl knows what to do with. To my relief, I am not as overwhelmed as I was at the beginning, I am finally starting to get my groove on with my morning commute, and I am loving every minute of it.

I have to say that if culinary school is on your bucket list I would highly recommend it. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be, and I have to say that it is such an amazing feeling to have.

Over the past seven weeks, I have been shocked by how much we have been able to cover in the short time that we have been in school. I am having a hard time recapping everything that I have been doing over the past couple of weeks, so I thought that I would outline a typical day in the life of a culinary student. I want to paint a better picture for you, just in case you are considering quitting your job and becoming a full-time culinary student. 😉

Ok, Let’s Do This…

5:15am– The alarm goes off and I try not to drive Derika crazy by hitting snooze ten times over. I slump out of bed, and over the next hour I shower, eat, watch a little Robin Meade on HLN and try to get myself ready to deal with the subway. I like to give myself a little extra time just to relax in the morning, because the subway ride can get a little intense. (If I am not teaching a yoga class in the morning the alarm would go off at 7:00am and I would leave the house at 8:00am).

  • 6:15am– Leave the house and walk (if it is nice out) to Unity Yoga to teach my morning class.
  • 7:00am– My yoga class begins.
  • 8:00am– My class ends, I quickly rinse off, change, and rush off to catch the subway to school.
  • 8:10am– I squeeze myself onto the subway that is packed like a can of sardines. I’ve now officially become a New Yorker and cram my headphones into my ears (I am obsessed with these). This seems to help as I try to drown out the uncomfortableness of random people’s body parts brushing up against me. Sometimes the subway is so full I swear my feet are not touching the ground.
  • 8:40am– I hop off the subway and pop into a Starbucks for some liquid energy, where they may or may not know my name at this point. 😉

Killing the morning commute

  • 8:50am – I sprint to school taking a little bit longer of a route, so that I can pass by not one, but two doggie daycares on my way. Look at how cute these guys are!


  • 8:55am– I arrive to school with just enough time to do the shuffle in the co-ed locker room with my classmates, as I try to hurriedly get into my chef’s uniform without flashing anyone in the process.
  • 9:00am– If I am the classroom steward that week, I have to arrive 15 minutes early to class. It is then my job along with another classmate to collect all of the supplies for our class that morning and set it all up for the chef.
  • 9:15am– The chef takes attendance. If everything has gone as planned, I am in class, in uniform and ready for the morning demo or lecture. This mostly involves just listening and note taking, but sometimes it also involves some chopping, prepping and maybe even a little bit of cooking.


  • 12:15pm– We are released for our one-hour break. This hour is the fastest of the day, so I usually just hang out in the classroom/kitchen swapping bites of my lunch and cooking tips with my classmates. I try to pack a healthy salad on most days to balance all of the food sampling that I will be doing later in the day.

Healthy Salad

  • 1:00pm – Part of my stewarding responsibilities is to arrive 15 minutes early from lunch to help get things set up for the afternoon portion of class.
  • 1:15pm – The chef takes attendance and we get ready for a quick lecture and an afternoon of cooking.
  • 1:30pm – The chef breaks our small class of 14 up into groups, gives us our cooking assignments, and we spend the rest of the afternoon cooking things like this, this and this. So much FUN!
  • 3:30pm – We plate all of our dishes and get a chance to taste everything that we have made while getting some feedback from the chef and my classmates.


  • 3:45pm – We pack up more leftovers than I know what to do with, and then we start to clean up the kitchen.
  • 4:15pm – We are released from class and I head up to the locker room to change and get ready to deal with the subway during rush hour.

If it happens to be a Thursday that I’ve signed up to help out with the NGI Friday Night Dinner Series, I get to stay at school a little bit longer 😉

  • 4:30pm – I head to another kitchen in my school to assist the chef and the students that are in charge of the dinner for that coming Friday. Over the course of the evening, I chop, prep and cook whatever they need help with.
  • 7:30pm – We have a quick break to snack on some amazing food that was prepared by one of the chefs at school.
  • 7:45pm – We are back at it, and continue to prep for the next day.

Dani and cookies

  • 9:30pm – We are finished prepping and cleaning, and I head up to the locker room to peel off my well-loved and very dirty chef’s uniform.
  • 9:40pm – I leave school and make my way to the subway.
  • 9:55pm – I hop on the subway and head home to do it all over again the next day.

Not all days are this long, this is just one of the more challenging days that I have had, and yet I still wake up the next morning excited to do it all over again. I just feel super lucky to have the opportunity to do this program and I am excited about the life long friends that I am making. I know that I am only seven weeks in, so I might have to edit this post at the end of my program when I don’t have as much pep in my step, but for now I am enjoying the ride!


2 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of a Culinary Student

  1. Alyson

    Reading “For the first time in my life, I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be” just made my heart SO happy 🙂 I loved reading this and getting a window into how you’re spending your days. It’s so great to read that you’re really happy doing it!

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