Southwest Minnesota State University

A long and thoughtful drive back to the Twin Cities

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I am an Engineer by education, a Chef by profession, a New Orleanian by birth; how does one put into writing an experience as what I witnessed?

I wake up at 4:30, it takes me an hour to shower, dress and pack, I don't know why so long.  Maybe, I just didn't want this to end.  But everything does, so I check out of the hotel and scrape the obligatory frost and snow from the windows of the car.  I am use to it by now, in fact, I planned an extra 10 minutes to do it.  I have adapted, just like a local. 

Now, all I have to do is drive east 3 plus hours in the corn field.  The sky is dark, but slightly brightened in my direction of travel, a preview of the impending daybreak.  The morning is cold and quiet.  The road, corn and snow glisten under the head lights. Time for thoughts.

It seems like years ago since David asked me if I would want to come up to SMSU to cook for his university, but in reality, it was about 6 months ago.  The planning went quickly, next I found myself on a plane, then a car, and in a blink of an eye I was driving around the University.

I thought I would lead the first staff meeting with strength and professionalism, that didn't happen.  Michael gave me a tour of the Culinology kitchens and seemingly disjointed rooms.  It was time for my first lecture, I was surprised as to how little the students knew about Louisiana.  At that point I felt like a crawfish out of his hole,  I wanted to crawl back. 

But then I was drawn into the warmth and friendliness of the students and staff.  They truly wanted to learn.  EVERY, I mean EVERY person I met was warm, eager and friendly.  They were confident, it was infectious, and so was I.



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Chef Emile L. Stieffel, Aurora Catering, Inc. email address:
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Revised: November 01, 2009.