Carving the Way for CHS Chefs
Some students like getting boba from Main Street for a full-course meal. Others might prefer chic, high-end restaurants. And a select few constantly crave the deliciously fulfilling taste of Taco Bell and 7-Eleven, a sweet nectar which tastes most satisfying at 3:40 PM (and AM). However, junior Jonathan Leung has a very different outlook on food. He makes it himself.
“I’ve always been very passionate about cooking,” stated Leung, “at the beginning, I always liked to cook with my mom when she’s in the kitchen. I wanted to see what she can do. Later on, I began to try to experiment with my own foods and see what I can do and figure out different flavors.”
“For me, cooking is really just experimenting with a lot of flavors and seeing what’s good and what isn’t. You just have to make something bad good or something good great.”
For the most part, Leung is self taught, using a combination of online resources and trial-and-error. Said Leung, “There’s a lot of reading; you have to read up on how to do this, how to do that, what temperatures to use, and all sorts of things. A lot of [learning to cook] is temperature-based and time-based, so sometimes you just have to experiment. For example, sometimes you burn things and that’s how you know you burned it too hot.”
Leung took his passion for cooking into school, and is currently the president of the Cooking Club. Explained Leung, “We typically do a cook twice a month. The first week is a demo day, where I cook something and during the second week [the members] actually do the cooking.”
For Leung, the chance to demonstrate for people provides a unique challenge different from cooking on his own. Said Leung, “I think for anything, when you are teaching you need to show off how well do you actually know what you’re doing; when you can teach it that’s when you know that you know it.”
“For me, the biggest challenge was the fact that I don’t really like to speak in front of people,” said Leung.
At home, Leung usually cooks as a hobby and a way to relax. “I don’t think I’ve ever been too lazy to cook. [Cooking has] always been something that I want to do.
“If I’m feeling hungry I’m just going to cook myself so I don’t have to wait for my parents which is always nice,” added Leung, “I usually just try to scrounge around in the refrigerator and see what I can make with that, and that also makes it more interesting for me to see what I can do.”
Leung believes that everyone should learn how to cook, and not just because he is passionate about it, “You need food to survive and I think it’s something good that everybody should learn. I think it’s really a mix between an art and a science and I think that’s what makes it really fun.”
Cooking with a Purpose
Everyone claims to love food: the refreshing taste of Cafe Lattea, the savory goodness of The Kebab Shop, the fried delicacies of T4. But when it comes to overdone steak and burnt cookies, most people cringe and turn the other way; their “love” for food forgotten. However, junior Carter Bian’s love for food helps him see beyond the blackened cookie and gray steak; he sees a story.
“People don’t always appreciate foods that don’t taste good,” explained Bian, “but to me, they are the best. It holds the story of failure, and failure can only lead to success.”
Failure is what shaped Bian into the cook he is today. “The biggest obstacle I encountered in learning to cook was accepting that cooking requires dirtying your hands. I used to be childish about getting my hands dirty, but as I cooked more, I became more accustomed to it,” explained Bian.
Bian’s passion for cooking started in fourth grade. “My parents forgot to leave me food, so I decided to take a shot at cooking eggs. It ended up being slightly overcooked, but I thought it was the tastiest thing in the world,” said Bian. Ever since that day, Bian was introduced to the vast world of cooking.
Bian’s passion never died out throughout the years because he is surrounded by people who share the same enthusiasm for food. Said Bian, “Many great memories have unintentionally stemmed from my cooking experiences with my friends. In that sense, my greatest drive for cooking is exploring the countless combinations of flavors with others. Every time one of my friends has a fun recipe they want to try out, I get excited about the outcome and want to cook with them.”
Most of these memories include cooking different types of meat: lamb, chicken, pork, beef, etc. “It’s my favorite thing to cook because its simple,” stated Bian, “ most of the time, you just throw it in the pan with some butter and rosemary, and voila.”
Recently, Bian started his first job at Chipotle, hoping to further his knowledge in cooking. “Chipotle has a policy called “Food With Chipotle,” and they understand the importance behind how food is raised and prepared. Ethical means of producing food is something I support, so I chose to work for Chipotle to further their mission,” explained Bian. “I also hope to develop patience, organization, and communication skills; all essential to life.”
Bian encourages everyone to try cooking. “Regardless of your job or goal, you need to be self-sufficient in cooking to save money and understand what you are feeding your body.”