Each chef knows they have a chef roll of necessary tools they need in order to be successful - a paring knife, chef knife, peeler, and of course, an apron. However, there’s one tool that doesn’t fit in our chef rolls - the person who inspired us to pursue this career. For me, that was a very special man: Mike Brooks, my grandfather. When I was younger - and even shorter than I am now - he began to teach me about the ins and outs of proper Texas BBQ. We would travel throughout the state and compete in cookoffs.
There were a few wins and losses along the way, but that never mattered to me. What mattered to me the most is getting to spend time with my grandfather. We would spend all day working with fire and food to make something delicious at the end of the day. That knowledge and love for cooking stayed with me throughout my life. I brought it with me into the military, where I was “volunteered” to cook dinner every night in the fire department.
Graduation day means so much more than getting a piece of paper handed to you. It symbolizes the end of a journey, and the beginning of a new one; a transition from one chapter of your life into the next. Our time spent here has played a huge role in our own individual stories. We have worked hard, tried new things, grown as a team, maybe lit a couple things on fire here and there. But we took the heat, and we didn’t get out of that kitchen. We stayed, through blood, sweat, tears, bourguignon, scallops, tartare.
I want to say thank you to some of those that have helped me get to where I am today. First, I would like to thank all the chefs for their wealth of knowledge and guidance in the kitchen. Second, I want to thank all of my classmates, as we all know the kitchen is a place for teams. Everyday we worked together to get to this point. I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me and eating all of my food, mostly without complaint. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for their love and support in getting me this far.
One of my favorite films to date is the 2014 film Chef starring Jon Favreau ,who plays the role of Chef Carl Casper. I leave you all with a quote from Chef Casper - “I may not do everything great in my life, but I'm good at this. I manage to touch people's lives with what I do and I want to share this with you.” Fellow graduates, it took us some time, but we are good at this. Now go out there and share.