The reason I decided to attend culinary school is not because I want to be a chef.

I attribute my decision largely instead, to my hunger.

Both literally and metaphorically, my hunger for food is what brought me on this grand adventure to our nation’s capitol. I love to eat, there’s no denying that. I’m hungry almost 100% of the time. But there is so much more to food than the temporary silencing of a growling stomach, and it’s this “more” that I hunger for the most.

I hunger for the sound of pots and pans clanking, and for the smell of butter and onions sizzling on the stove. I hunger for more knowledge about the things we eat and the ways we cook them, and for the gathering of people around a table to enjoy a meal.

Food is one of the few things in this world that has the power to bring people together. If there is one thing culinary school has taught me, it is that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m now a master at cutting a brunoise of carrot, turning a potato into a tournée, trussing a chicken and making the perfect hollandaise. I can even make a bowl of melted chocolate into a beautiful work of art (as if a bowl of chocolate isn’t beautiful already). But the most powerful lesson I’ve learned has nothing to do with the preparation of food at all. Cooking, I’ve realized, isn’t so much about the food itself, but more about the people for whom and with you do it.

These past four months have been without a doubt the most physically, mentally and emotionally challenging months of my entire life. Culinary school is hard enough. Doing it in a city 600 miles away from all of your family and friends adds another dimension of difficulty. No matter how much you try to explain this experience, no one can ever fully grasp it unless they’ve been through it themselves. However despite it all, I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything.

Every single day, I thank God that He made me hungry for the “more” of food and that He sent me here to be surrounded by people who are consumed by this same hunger. “This is the power of gathering: it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive.” -Alice Waters

The reason I decided to attend culinary school is not because I want to be a chef.

It’s because I’m hungry.