BY MARISSA LA BRECQUE
Barbara Alexander with visiting chef Hiroo Nagahara
PHOTO BY MARISSA LABRECQUE
A mention of “cooking school” is often the beginning to a rollicking conversation amongst chefs.
There are those who feel that showing up for the abuse and intensity of an actual commercial kitchen every day until you are worthy to chop, and then one day to filet, and then one day to cook, is the only career path for a chef.
And then there is the other school of thought. Chef Barbara Alexander has been the executive chef of the Napa Valley Cooking School in St. Helena for 12 years (after a stint at that other culinary school in St. Helena). Observing her with her students reminded me of the sanctity of the culinary school path to a life in the back of the house. How well she understands the phases of confidence and competence, how each student becomes a cook over the course of their education.
Whether you are baptized in potato peels or coursework, cooking is still blessedly a world of mentors and students. Cooks learn from masters—sometimes just one, but often many.
I spent a few days at the very … Read More