By Rachel Green
Professional Culinary Arts student
Have you ever changed . . . willingly, yet unexpectedly? I mean really, really worked hard toward something – full speed ahead in one direction (for more than 17 years, to be exact); achieved “success,” made money, earned academic degrees, experienced being “the boss,” saw light at the end of the retirement tunnel . . . and then, without rhyme or reason, other than momentary courage (or “insanity,” according to some), you changed your mind? Who does that? Well, I did! And because I did, I have an amazing opportunity to live my dream and share my story!
My name is Rachel Green and I am still in awe of what happened when I stepped out on faith, embraced change, and challenged my own definition of success. In shifting what I know as an educator and a Southerner to once again become a student and a Northerner, I realize it’s impossible to simply erase a lifespan of knowledge and even harder to change some ole’ habits that used to work . So instead, I find myself tabling what “used-to-be” for memory lane, sopping up the new . . . well, everything, and facing vulnerabilities that will only make me stronger. Alas, to be “green” again and as inquisitive and full of joy as my 2 ½ year-old niece, Navi!
While life as an administrator in higher education ended for me in February 2015, life as a budding entrepreneur and hungry culinary professional began in March 2015 with a homemade video submission to the Rachael Ray Show in New York City! Who knew, other than my mom (Madonna), auntie (Mary), sister (Ruth) and my friend (Courtney), that my salmon patties and grits would be life changing? I do have a very supportive crew who KNEW that if I’d just got out of my own way, great things would happen! But, I still had doubt.
After multiple rounds of competition, including two culinary “cook-offs” judged by Chef Jaques Pepin, I was crowned the grand winner and awarded a few sweet prizes, including full-tuition for a 6-month Professional Culinary Arts program! At the prestigious International Culinary Center (ICC), formerly The French Culinary Institute, in Manhattan, NY, is where I now spend my days butchering chicken, filleting fish, rolling dough, and being made “painfully” aware of just how imperfect I really am . . . how perfect!
Doubt removed, I’ve completed my first term with an “A.” More importantly, I’ve survived my first real look at food as more than a hobby or passion – but as an art-form and industry in which only the best thrive. Make no mistake; peeling away many layers of comfort and familiarity and replacing them with a “large” and “inexpensive” apartment, an “easy-breezy, no one’s ever sneezing” subway commute, and “yes, Chef” (just a few of the many perks I’ve discovered since arriving in NYC), is no cakewalk! Nevertheless, as I inhale the wonderful city of New York and ICC’s 6-month fast-track culinary program, I am enjoying the opportunity, in the moment, to simply be “green.”
I realize that my journey is not just about me. My journey is about reaching people like me – people that know there is more to life than what they’re currently experiencing – people that do not know where to start and when they start, do not know how to keep going! Although I’ve been told that anything and everything is possible in New York City, I know too, that anything is possible for anyone – everywhere – as long as we are inquisitive enough to ask “Why not?” and courageous enough to answer “Let’s go for it”!
Join me as I continue to explore the risks and rewards hidden in “all things new” in NYC! Who knows, someday, you too may wish to be “green” again!