Culinary School: Intro to don’t-chop-your-fingers-off

I survived my first week of culinary school!

Thanks to the support, generosity, and prayers of many of you, I have finally been able to pursue my dream of going to the Nutrition Therapy Institute and using my passion to help people be truly nourished – in every sense of the word.

Earlier this month, my husband and I managed to pack up most of our worldly possessions (read: mostly kitchen utensils and books) in our car and survive the drive to Denver. Our temporary apartment is sunny and came mostly furnished and is literally 2 blocks from my school. However, we only have it until mid-May and it has the SCARIEST gas stove/oven that I have to light with a match! I’ve determined to make peace with the Danger Oven this semester. I’m sure you will hear much more of this culinary saga in future updates.

Hiking Red Rocks in the January sunshine.

Hiking Red Rocks in the January sunshine.

We are living with two lovely friends, also from Wisconsin, who are professional photographers getting into the photo market here out West (holler at me if you need any photo services! This couple is amazing! They even shot our wedding). We are exploring the area as much as we can, and spending as much time as possible outside. Besides that, I’m just battling eternal dry skin and frizzy dry hair and sunburn. It’s a small price to pay for 300 days of sunshine per year though.

We’re home.



NTI is a really unique school which combines formal culinary training with nutrition therapy and business skills.We are a small class, capped at 10. The school has another Master Nutrition Therapist course that has a few hundred students, I believe. A few of those students have seen that the culinary course I’m in is the “practical” side of nutrition and they enrolled in order to be able to better serve their clients. So I’m getting a 2-for-1 education!

A colorful quinoa salad, created with all our practiced-chopped veggies.

A colorful quinoa salad, created with all our practiced-chopped veggies.

Just this past week I have learned so much – from the proper way to prepare grains and store oils (I’ve been doing it all wrong!) and combine certain foods to maximize nutrition. We went though typical intro stuff, then talked about kitchen safety, fire safety, and knife skills. We practiced different slices and dices and techniques. Yes, I had to demonstrate that I could cut a carrot into a perfect julienne, which is 1/8 x 1/8 x 2 inches. My chef instructor comes from a classical French school of cooking so is imparting both those techniques, as well as practical ‘shortcuts’ for the home kitchen.

Later in the week we learned about kitchen sanitization (I’ll never eat in a restaurant again), mise-en-place, and poaching. One day a week I have nutrition and business classes. This week was all about carbohydrates and how they are used in the body. It was very in-depth and eye-opening, especially when talking about sugars, including “fake sugars” and “natural sugars” that the health community loves to promote.

My classmates gather to sample our very first class-created meal.

My classmates gather to sample our very first class-created meal.

On non-class days, I will be fulfilling my diverse internship components including at a working farm, shadowing a personal chef, and doing catering for a large group (more on all this later), and doing quite a bit of homework and exams. I’m a bit overwhelmed, but I love it all. I also got to know my classmates and chef instructor, who are all REALLY cool people. I have a lot to learn from all of them.

I won’t bore you with too many details, but I will be posting recipes and techniques that I learn throughout my course.

A final note: I am attending NTI in order to build my skills as an educator and chef, in order to build PeaceMeals in the future. If you want to help defray some of the costs of pursuing this dream (Lord knows dreams ain’t cheap), there’s still time to donate! The fundraiser ends February 5th. If you HAVEN’T seen the fundraiser I created to help with this endeavor, you can check it out here:

Thank you SO MUCH to everyone who has already donated! I hope to pay THIS forward someday too.



  1. EDC NANA February 2, 2015 Reply

    WAY to GOOOOO sweet young Lady!!!!
    Reading ALL I can about your new adventure. Were moving from our old building into a ocd house. We will be building a garden in the back! I cant wait to be a part of that.
    Im ssso very proud of you…….KEEP GOING!!!!!

  2. Katie Dwyer January 25, 2015 Reply

    This sounds like such a wonderful opportunity! Please keep us posted–I’m already fascinated by these little details you’ve offered, and can’t wait to learn more about your experiences!

    Good luck to you, Cath, and enjoy the sun!


  3. Leilah January 24, 2015 Reply

    Cath! This is amazing! I am so excited and happy for you! I’m going to grad school for Public healthy Nutrition and I will be a registered dietician at the end! I’m so excited! Hooray for food and dreams!

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