How many 20-year-olds know exactly what career path they want to follow and take action to pursue it? Not too many that I know.
However, it is a young man from our area who is actively working to become a world-class chef. Meet Taylor Hanson of Eyota.
He is currently a student at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, one of the most prestigious training camps in the country for a culinary career. When this semester ends in a few weeks, he will spend 14 weeks in one of the best restaurants in New York, Le Bernardin, before returning to school.
How did it come to this point in a relatively young age?
"Growing up, I was always in excellent home cooking," he said. "Eating at home was a priority and both my parents are excellent cooks. In fact, my mother is an incredible baker and last summer she won two tapes at the Minnesota fair for her French macarons. I have always loved being in the kitchen, both helping and doing. "
While Hanson and his twin were at home, he enrolled in the RCTC during his middle and high school years and received a degree. During that time, he solidified his desire to attend cooking school.
Hanson sought out Julie Warner, a family friend, who is also a culinary degree and highly respected in this field. She advised him to spend some time working in the field before going to school "just to make sure this was what I wanted to do," he said.
Thus did Burt & # 39; s Meats in Eyota, a year of work at the Rochester Athletic Club gastronomy and six months in the kitchen in Chester.
"It was a terrific experience," he said. "The chef Derek Jensen was a great help, support and encouragement, like everyone else. I learned a lot. It was also clear to me that I have a good kitchen personality."
With the decision to move forward, Warner suggested schools he thought would be more suitable for Hanson, one of which was the culinary institute. He applied, was accepted and started lessons last August.
Some of the kitchen stars have attended there include Anthony Bourdain, Emeril Lagasse and Giada de Laurentiis. The school is known for its intensive and demanding curriculum.
"We started with culinary basics like braising, stewing, stocks, soups and basic French techniques," said Hanson.
Each topic lasts three weeks, plus six hours a day in the kitchen. Some of the categories are butcher, seafood (his favorite), banquet and a la carte menu. Then there are the assigned readings, the study of the recipes and the viewing of the videos.
Hanson told me about an upcoming exam, in which each class member draws one of the five menus and will only have 2-1 / 2 hours to prepare it. This includes an appetizer, a starch, two vegetables and a soup. They will therefore be judged.
"It gets pretty intense and stressful," he said. Of his class of 20, five had already fallen. He, however, is flourishing.
I asked what they did out of the class. "Sometimes some of us get together and cook (busman vacations), or we'll go to New York City," he said. "I made some good friends."
His 14-week internship starts in a few weeks and his being offered to Le Bernardin is particularly exciting for him. This is a fine French upscale seafood restaurant in Midtown Manhattan. His responsibilities vary but increase as he gains experience. It is also the direction he hopes to take.
Of course I had to ask him his favorite thing to eat and prepare.
"My absolute favorite is the shallow drowned plaice with a sauce made from poaching liquid," he said. "I am passionate about seafood and that's where I hope my training takes me".
Stay tuned: this is a guy we would like to see.