Most of the time students and teachers labour far from the public eye. It takes time, patience, perseverance and an internal demand for perfection to build skill that is reliable, consistent and demonstrable.
OK ... that's the 'daily lesson' over with ... you can take off your tinfoil hats and let's get on with the fun stuff!
Learning to make Coq-Au-Vin was fun for us all. Tyler demonstrated beautifully last week,
Chef decided that it was time to show off his great students a little, with purpose. The annual OCEA (Ontario Co-operative Education Association) conference was coming up and he threw his hat, along with a co-op teacher friend, into the ring. Chef volunteered to try and re-create, for other co-op teachers, the experience of being thrown into something you really don't know about, and where you're expected to produce really fast, follow instructions you may not understand fully and do procedures that you're unfamilliar with. This is exactly what our students face when they go out for their early days in their co-op jobs.
Chef volunteered to have his students become the teachers, and teach a whole roomfull of co-op teachers, under time pressure, to make coq-au-vin!
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the long and the short of it is "They Came, They Participated and They Ate!"
Volunteering for this event was completely open ... it took place a long, long way from school or the Monarch Park area of Toronto, so participation by the students was completely and entirely voluntary. It required a lot of parental time and automotive support. Grace managed to talk her Mum into driving her out so she could participate and be our student representative. (Mum came into the demo / show for fun and watched her daughter with proud eyes!) THANK YOU, Grace and Mum!!
Chef's co-presenter was Sandy Mahr, the one-and-only co-op teacher from Vaughan Road Academy. Sandy is normally a very stylish teacher, the very model of professional dress. Chef is ... less so. (To be honest, Chef usually shows up at school dressed like a bit of a mess because he's rather colour-blind, but puts on full whites for all kitchen work, so who can tell?)
Chef's partner, Ms Gail Aller-Stead, came in from work to spend a day with the students assisting in the demonstration.
Before the demo started, Grace and Chef prepared the lardons and reserved them, and cut up most of the chicken breasts.
Sandy did introductions and offered the chance to be a participant. Hands just shot up and we quickly chose 4 volunteers from the group.
Chef invited everyone in the room to get up off their seats and crowd around the demonstration tables ... get right into the experience, he said, and take advantage of every opportunity to learn. Everyone was encouraged to take pictures. Sandy shared the structure of the lesson in meta terms, and Chef and Grace taught 'the lesson' in micro terms.
Everything smelled absolutely delicious!!!
Chef gave some basic instructions and the cooking began! Fat was heated up, chicken bits braised, then a flambe for each team!
Wine and stock were added, then the whole thing, in each pan, allowed to reduce for about 25 minutes while our demonstrators cleaned up.
Sandy kept the larger conversation roaring along, suggesting not only to look at the small things or actions,
The power failed twice ... we had to deal with unexpected changes in equipment. That is all part of being a good co-op student and teacher.
Then ... it was time for samples.
OMG! Yum! Fabulous!
But Chef and Grace heard a lot of "I can't do this at home". Why not? We challenged. Why not? What is REALLY stopping you?
Turned out that the main ingredient lacking was courage. What if it doesn't work? What then? What do I eat? What do I serve?
Chef used to be a biker. There is a rule everywhere in the motorcycle world: "Fall down Seven times, Get up Eight." Do not give up on yourself. Do not quit. Do not beat yourself up and do not let others' sarcasm, doubt or ignorance throw you off your chosen course.
We all fail at times. Failure is a great teacher. Learn from failure.
In the long run, the only thing that will get in your way is YOU, yourself.
Nurture your inner Yoda.