The Natural Chef Program-and my journey to becoming a Chef

Photo courtesy of the Central Carolina Community College website


I am finally following that dream of becoming a Chef. Not that I don’t consider myself one in some capacity already. I cook often, devour cookbooks like they might disappear at any moment, relish trying new recipes and  new ingredients, and dream of one day having a restaurant quality kitchen in my house. 

But now I have actually registered for the Culinary tract at Central Carolina Community College. Already known for it’s Sustainable Agriculture Program, this year CCCC added The Natural Chef Program. 

The Natural Chef’s Objectives: 

“To Train culinary professionals in basic culinary techniques with an emphasis on local food systems, in season preparation, fundamentals of nutrition, and the connection between food and wellness.” 

“To promote the connection between local sustainable farms and future culinary professions.” 

I can’t remember where I first heard about the Program. I do remember going to visit CCCC to find out more about it only to learn that there would only be room for 18 students in both the full-time and part-time tracts, and that they had screened calls from all over the country from people interested in registering. I was told people had even threatened to camp out. 

Well let me tell you what! No way was I NOT getting into this program. After telling my friend Gabrielle about the program, she too decided this was well worth it. And what can I say, registration was Monday July 26th and we put up our tent, directly in front of the doorway, at 9pm Sunday July 25th. We were the first to arrive, but by midnight had a group of probably 15 people, all jazzed up with excitement and ready to register. That is a night I will not soon forget. 

This program is offered at several institutions around the country, so why all the interest in coming to CCCC in Pittsboro? Just google “the natural chef” and look through the several schools that offer such a program. Now watch as your mouth drop at the tuition fees, which range anywhere from $3000-$1o,ooo. Ouch! 

The Natural Chef Program offered at CCCC is just under $1100 and includes tuition, books and chef’s tools. WOW!! 

With a brand new building and all new kitchen equipment, this first time program and it’s students will be the guinea pigs for future students. I can’t wait!! 

I have worked in kitchens my whole life, from stirring the soup pot for dad to making homemade chocolate chip cookies with my Mum, care of the 1956 edition of The Joy Of Cooking which still sits on my cookbook shelf today. 

My first “real” job came when I was 15 when I worked for 5 years in the snack bar at a private club in Toronto. I worked under a wonderful women who taught me basic knife skills, how to flip an omelette and poach an egg, how to prioritize what’s happening in the kitchen; like when to drop the fries for a burger order so they are done at the same time. I made endless amounts of tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad, and prepping all the ingredients that went with them. 

We shared the walk-in fridge with the much classier restaurant in the club, so every day I worked I had the chance to walk through a full running kitchen. I would watch the Executive and Sous Chefs prepare beautiful plates of fish, chicken, lamb or whatever protein was being prepared, and I loved watching the pastry chef design swirls of sauces on the plates before delicately placing the desert on top. 

I was in love, and that passion has never vanished, just worked itself into a different side of the industry where my passion for Marketing and PR, Catering and Special Events have played a key role over the last many years. 

Now I am after the other side of my passion and heading back into the kitchen. I want to learn it all and walk away with a sense of accomplishment and my dream come true. 

Follow me during my 5 months in The Natural Chef Program. Each week I’ll be filling you in on what we learned, passing on lessons, testing recipes and adding thoughts and tips from the week. 

Happy Eating!!


3 thoughts on “The Natural Chef Program-and my journey to becoming a Chef

  1. Did you end up finishing the program? I couldn’t find anymore blog posts about it. I’m looking to enroll next fall… it looks great!!!

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