Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Culinary school FAQ: A recap of the first 8 weeks

I wanted to take some time to update you all on a huge life change I made earlier this year. At the end of August, I left my job at FOX59 and CBS4 to become a full-time culinary student. In order for you all to better understand this decision, I'm going to rewind about seven years and share a little of my life story.

I had always wanted to be a journalist, and I thought I was on the right track after getting a job at FOX59 following my graduation from Indiana University. I didn't land my "dream job" out of college by any means—I was hired as an overnight assignment editor. But I previously interned at FOX59, and I loved all the people there. Also, I liked that it wasn't far from home. Indianapolis was only a two-hour drive from my parents' house in Fort Wayne. Most journalism students mentally prepare to work in a very small town in the middle of nowhere for their first job, so I felt pretty special working at a station in a top 25 market.

Unfortunately, my body could not adjust to working overnight, and I couldn't sleep. I was so exhausted by the end of my shift that I would fall asleep as soon as I got home at 8 a.m. But I wasn't able to stay asleep past noon.

Because I wasn't sleeping, I had a lot of free time, and I needed a creative outlet. So I started cooking and baking. I had never really done much of either, so I taught myself by reading articles online and watching YouTube videos. I shared a lot of my baked goods with my co-workers, and they seemed to really appreciate it. At that point blogs were becoming popular, so I decided to start my own as a way to document my progress and keep track of the recipes I made. I chose the name "Kylee's Kitchen" simply because I like alliterations. My blog launched in April 2014.

The more time I spent in the kitchen, the more I enjoyed cooking and baking. I loved working with my hands and putting my creativity and love of food to use.

At that time, there were several regular FOX59 morning show food guests, and I decided I wanted my own segment to share recipes. The thought of it makes me laugh now. I had no idea what I was doing, but somehow I convinced our news director to let me on TV. My first segment was less than stellar. I shared a recipe for cooking salmon in a foil packet. I'll never forget one of the first "mean" comments I received. Someone posted on the FOX59 Facebook page that I looked like I lived in my dad's basement. As far as mean comments go, that's actually pretty tame, but I remember it really upset me. Regardless, they kept allowing me back on TV, and it pushed me to be better.

During this time, my role at FOX59 changed. I became a web producer and fortunately worked more normal hours. I liked the work, but I didn't love it. And I knew I was never going to love it. But I knew I loved food. I loved being in the kitchen, and I dreamt of going to culinary school. However, I had no desire to work in a restaurant or a bakery. So I explored other careers in food, and I became interested in becoming a registered dietitian. I spoke with several dietitians and shadowed one for a day, and I found it very interesting.

I met with an academic advisor at Ball State, and I learned to become a registered dietitian would require me to basically earn another bachelor's degree because the prerequisites for getting into a didactic program differed greatly from the classes I took as an undergrad. It was a LOT of science. But it didn't deter me, and I enrolled in my first chemistry class. Throughout the next few years, I proceeded to take several more chemistry classes, anatomy classes, and physiology classes. I did that while working full time at FOX59 / CBS4, producing Kylee's Kitchen segments, running my blog, and planning a wedding. Honestly, it was exhausting. 

During my annual meeting with my academic advisor in 2019, I learned the Commission on Dietetic Registration elevated the entry-level RD education to graduate level, and in order to take the examination to become a dietitian I would have to get a masters degree. I didn't feel good about the situation. In fact, it devastated me. But after talking with my husband, I realized that wasn't even my dream. Culinary school was my dream. So I started exploring what it would look like for me to go to culinary school.

We live just about one mile from Ivy Tech in downtown Indianapolis, which is a top-20 culinary school in the United States. I took a tour of the facility, and I immediately felt like I belonged there. I enrolled to start in August 2020.

Since I just reached the midpoint of the semester, I wanted to share a little about my experience thus far!

The two lab classes I've taken are Basic Food Theory and Soups, Stocks, and Sauces. The amount of knowledge I've learned in such a short time is truly mind-blowing, and I can't wait to share more with you all (I already have a soup master post in the works!). I don't even know how I was cooking before taking the classes. I also took several online classes: Sanitation and Safety, Nutrition, and Human Relations Management. I'll finish the semester with Introduction to Baking and Classical Pasties and Chocolate.

I’ve compiled a few FAQ to share all the fun details of my experience thus far!

Trying on my uniform for the first time

Why are you going to culinary school? Don't you already know how to cook?

Food is always on my mind—I love talking about it, experimenting in the kitchen, and dissecting recipes, and I truly want to learn everything I can about it. Even though I am a proficient home cook, I only know what I've been able to teach myself, and I am really excited to learn from industry professionals. Also, I feel like this is a great investment in myself since cooking is obviously a skill I will use my entire life.

What is your class schedule?

I go to class Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and I start a new class every four weeks. We spend the entire time in the kitchen. As far as schoolwork goes, there's a lot of reading, and I've had several research projects about industry topics.

Are you doing the culinary arts or baking and pastry program?

I'm currently enrolled in the culinary arts program, but I plan to do both! There are quite a few classes that overlap, so when I finish culinary arts, I'll pick up the remaining classes necessary for the baking and pastry program. I decided to pursue culinary arts first because I thought it would better provide me with a well-rounded culinary education.

How long will it take to complete?

I will finish the culinary arts program next fall, and I hope to finish the baking and pastry program by spring 2022.

Do you like it?

I love everything about it. I truly feel like it's where I belong. The classes are really small (there were only four people in my last class), and I'm getting a lot of individual attention and instruction. Also, the instructors at Ivy Tech are some of the leaders in the food industry in Indianapolis, and I feel like I'm making a lot of great connections.

What happens to the food you make?

We eat it! It's a learning experience to try each other's food. Any leftovers go to the cafe. Ivy Tech has a full-service cafe run by students.

What are your exams like?

The exams are a bit nerve-racking. During my most recent exam, I had to fabricate (cut up) a whole chicken into two breasts (one airline and one boneless, skinless), two thighs, two legs, two wings, and the carcass had to be cut into four pieces to be used for stock. I then used the carcass to make chicken stock. I was also randomly assigned a soup to make. Also, I had to cook the two chicken breasts with a randomly selected cooking method and sauce. I was assigned to make pan-fried chicken with cream sauce. I had to serve it with pan-roasted brussels sprouts and rice pilaf. We were allotted two-and-a-half hours to finish.

What are your plans for after culinary school?

I would love to combine my love for food and journalism. Food publications need culinarians as writers, critics, recipe developers, and food stylists, and all of those options excite me. My dream is to some day write and publish a cookbook.

Final prepared dish for my last practical exam:
pan-fried chicken with cream sauce, brussels sprouts, and rice pilaf.

Parmesan tomato soup with parmesan crisps on top

Cream of carrot soup
Cream of mushroom soup that kind of looks like winter sludge

Shrimp bisque! This was my first time flambéing.

Beef consommé. It's a clear soup that's a pain to make and not all that enjoyable.

New England Clam Chowder—I also had to make this for the practical exam.

French onion soup

Beef vegetable soup

Poached chicken with béarnaise and rice pilaf

Fabricating a chicken

Eggs benedict

Cream of broccoli soup

Submerge poached whitefish with beurre blanc

Shallow poached whitefish with hollandaise

Roasted chicken with pan gravy and potatoes

Cheddar and leek soup

Grilled steak with cabernet compund butter


  1. All these dishes look amazing. I can't wait to buy your cook book and try some of these delicious recipes!

  2. Wow, good for you to pursue your dreams. I have a podcast called Culinary School Stories which maybe you would consider coming on as a guest once you get through your studies? In the meantime, check it out and compare your unfolding story to others who went to culinary school as well? Here is the link -

  3. It is very important to study to improve your skills. I'm glad there is such a school. I take culinary courses and at the same time study at the university to become an economist. But sometimes it’s difficult for me to complete all the assignments in the curriculum. Then my friends told me about the writing research proposal service and I ordered my essays there. I'm glad that the writers helped me complete these tasks and they turned out to be informative.


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