One Month Left

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, NYC:

Hey guys!!

I can’t believe I have less than a month left here in New York! June is now over and the pressure is on! School has been amazing. We are in the final stretch and we just finished our final level of plated desserts & now are moving on to wedding cakes. After we do our wedding cakes we will move on to our finals which will take place over 5 days. We will have to make a showpiece of our choice (chocolate or sugar), some type of cake or tart, a bread, a candy, and a petit four. Our showpiece must house these items. Our theme is “cities”. Of course, I chose New Orleans! One of the best cities in the world! I’m working on my sketches for my cake and showpiece right now. My last day of work was last Wednesday. It was definitely a bittersweet moment. Now I get to focus on my finals and seeing a little bit more of the city before I leave.

I just want to take time once again to thank everyone who has supported me thus far and who will continue to support me in all of my endeavors. Words can’t express my gratitude!

Until next time, dream on & turn up! Haha

Level 3, Here I Come!

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, NYC: Hello all! This has been an exciting month for me. I’ll sum it up the best I can.

Most importantly, I am now in level 3 at school which is our final level of The Classic Pastry Arts program. I can’t believe how fast this process is going by. It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling. I really love this school, but I can’t wait to apply what I have learned to the real career world.

I’ve finallyyyyy started my official training for my new position at work 2 weeks ago. So long prep cook, hello cake icer! I have to say that I’m really enjoying myself. I’m also back at my original location which is a plus! I love the staff and feel at the Rockefeller Center location. Magnolia Bakery is a great company to work for. Aside from work I have received two cake order request here in New York. One for a wedding engagement party and another for a baby shower! Make sure you remember me for your event as well! Lol

I have to say that one of my favorite moments here in New York occurred this past Friday. I saw Wicked for the first time & I LOVED it. Awesome story along with a super talented cast. I hear that it will be in New Orleans soon so make sure you check it out. If you are into music or theatre then you won’t be disappointed.

A special thanks to Chef John Besh, Chefs Move, and everyone affiliated with the program as well. I really do appreciate everything you guys do to make sure that I have everything I need here in New York. You all have made the transition much simpler and I will forever be grateful.

Also to all of the hopeful scholarship recipients who are reading this…

Never give up on your dreams! Apply yourself and always strive to do better. I wish you all the luck I can possibly give. You can contact me via Facebook (Calvin Virgil) or twitter/Instagram (Cal0711) for any questions you may have. I’m always available and I look forward to telling you about the New York experience.

Until next month guys!

Learning More Every Day

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, NYC: I honestly can’t believe how fast these months are passing. In four months I will be a graduate of The International Culinary Center of New York! Things have been going well for me. I know I may say this a lot, but I’m so very grateful for this opportunity.

March has been full of school, work, and practice. We have reached Level 2 recently at school which will consist of chocolate, plated desserts, and sugar work. Although chocolate isn’t my favorite to work with, its very interesting to learn the steps to chocolate making. It’s also fun to know how to make different chocolate showpieces. Once you have the basics down, you can just let your imagination take control. I absolutely loved the plated desserts part one section. I enjoy anything to do with presentation and detail. I’ve also put my mixer to use a few times this month. I made a birthday cake for one of my good friends & I made some Brioche! I also decorated a dummy cake. My original idea didn’t come through so I had to improvise. I was happy with the outcome. I plan on doing one every month while I’m here.

I’m really enjoying everything that New York has to offer. I can’t wait to take everything that I’ve learned and put it to use when I get home.

Until next time, be safe & dream on!

Living the Dream in NYC!

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, NYC:  This journey just keeps getting better and better. Even now I still have my moments when I think, “Wow. This is really happening!!” I’m constantly reminded by friends and family that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and to make the best of it. That is definitely what I intend to do. The month of February has been one to remember. Most importantly my birthday was February 19th and I enjoyed it to the fullest!! I received a Kitchen Aid mixer for my birthday (Best gift ever!) and I also got to spend this past weekend with my family. My brother, sister, and two cousins came to visit me. My sister’s birthday was Sunday so we decided to all celebrate together. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

School is going great. Currently we are on cakes Pt 2. Our midterm is next Tuesday. It will consist of a written exam and a cake. The type of cake was picked from a raffle, but the design/theme is totally up to us. I’ll be sure to post the final product on Twitter when that time comes. I can’t believe that I only have 5 months left!! It’s really a bittersweet feeling. I reallyyyyy love being in New York, but I can’t wait to get back into my field and be working towards my long term goals as a pastry chef/ entrepreneur.

I’m not a party person, but I LOVE live music and singing so I have been going to some open mic nights at the Village Underground on Sunday nights. I just love the atmosphere and it helps take my mind off of everything going on just for a few hours. Along with cooking/baking, music is my therapy and I couldn’t imagine life without it.

I’ve also reconnected with someone who has become very special in my life. 
(Enough of the mushy stuff lol) Needless to say, life is great and once again I have to thank everyone that is involved with the Chefs Move! program. I definitely don’t take this opportunity for granted and I intend to make you guys so very proud in the future.

Till next time guys! Don’t stop dreaming!

Learning Something New Every Day

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, NYC: Hello family! I can’t believe the month of January has come and gone so quickly. This month has mainly consisted of school and work. The International Culinary Center of NY is really amazing. We just finished up our section on breads and next is petit fours then we will finally be moving on to Level 2.  The highlight of this month for me was going to a demo at school hosted by one of my idols, Ron Ben-Israel. He’s such a talented and funny individual. I hope to be at his level in this profession one day.

I’m trying my best to learn something new each and every day. I’ve also started working on ideas for my business. I can’t wait until I can share it not only with New Orleans, but with the world. Through this experience I’m actually gaining back the confidence that I had so long ago. It’s really a great feeling.

P.S – I miss you guys sooooooo much and I can’t wait to see everyone again.

2012: What a Year

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, NYC: Another month has come and gone and I have to say that I’ve come to enjoy this experience even more. As time passes I’m learning more as a student and as a person. Each day is a new adventure. I have a few things that I want to share with you guys that made December such a special month for me.

Most importantly, school is going very well. I’m pleased with my grades and my progress as far as where I came from when I first started. Right now we are on the Gateaux section of curriculum. Being that I want to specialize in cake design, this has to be my favorite section yet.

Another exciting moment for me this month was Chris and I assisted at the NOLA Pay It Forward event in the Rockaways. Working with Chef Mike and other local New Orleans chefs was a very humbling experience. Seeing how grateful all of the Hurricane Sandy victims were made every moment worth while. The food was amazing and it was super fun! It definitely represented New Orleans in a great way while giving back at the same time.

Lastly, I am SOOOOO happy to announce that I finally have a job!!! It’s been a rough few months financially for me, but I really wanted to take my time and find somewhere that I would grow in the most in the area that I want to specialize in. I start work this week at Magnolia Bakery. It’s one of the most popular and tasty spots in New York City for pastries! I look forward to learning and growing as a baker here.

I hope you guys had a wonderful Christmas holiday and will have a great New Year! Until next time…

To Make Sandy

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, LONG ISLAND: Hey guys! October has been a very interesting month so far for me. The most exciting part was starting school. It’s everything that I imagined and more! I’m learning so much at ICC. The chefs are skilled and very knowledgeable! My classmates are a thrill to work with! Our first level is tarts & cookies. My favorite tart thus far has been the Tarte Au Citron (lemon tart). It reminded me of when I was child and how my grandmother and I would make our weekly trip to McKenzie’s bakery for a lemon meringue pie.

Aside from school, I’ve been learning the city and subway system more each day. On my days off from school I sometimes take the F train from Roosevelt Island and pick a different stop to get off to see what I can find. This monthly metro card really comes in handy. I’ve even ventured off to my cousin’s house in Long Island these past two weekends. It’s almost safe to say that I’m a pro at this. Lol

One thing I never thought that I would experience while here was Hurricane Sandy. It really hit home for me being that we experience this all the time. I’m currently in Long Island with my cousin and we have been without power since Monday evening. 90% of Long Island is still without power and they don’t know when power will be restored. Lower Manhattan was hit pretty hard as well which caused school to be closed until further notice because of the power outages and flooding. I wish there was more I could do to help, but I am stuck myself until major roads and the train systems are back up and running.

While studying, (in the dark with a few candles lol) I found it just a little ironic that I was going over my recipe for Pâté Brisee. One of the procedures is to add the cold cubed butter to the dry ingredients and, using a bowl scraper, cut in the butter until the butter pieces are approximately the size of dried lentils, working quickly to avoid melting the butter. This procedure is called “sablage”. Meaning to “make SANDY”. Make sandy; Hurricane Sandy… Get it? Maybe not. Lol

I look forward to doing more blogs so I can give you guys more insight on my time here in New York!!!

Thank You!

BY CALVIN VIRGIL, NYC: First off, I would like to again thank EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has played a part in making this happen for me. Words can’t express how much it really means to me.

I came to New York last year to visit ICC, formerly FCI and knew that this was the school for me. I also knew that I couldn’t afford it so I set off on a journey to find anyone that would help make my dream come true for me.

Down the line I got in touch with Emery Whalen. I was shocked to find out that they had just sent someone (Syrena) to study at FCI. I was told to apply for the scholarship in January. I applied but also wanted to do more to show my character so I applied for a pastry position at Domenica in March and was hired. I had hoped that this would help somehow in the scholarship process. I wanted to show my work ethic and how much I really wanted this opportunity. After starting at Domenica I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t tried working in a kitchen before. I can honestly say that I was in love with my job and that was a first!

When I got the call saying that I was chosen for a formal interview I was super excited. I felt that I was one step closer. Leaving the interview I was really confident that it went well. A few weeks went by and I received another invitation to have a interview with Chef Kelly Fields. It was a very heartfelt interview and I again felt confident that I could possibly be one of the final applicants in this process. Emery contacted me and told me that John Besh himself wanted to interview us. I think this is the only time in the application process that I was scared or intimidated. I arrived at Borgne restaurant very nervous, but ready to give it my all. To my surprise there was no actual interview.

I was announced the 2012 Chefs Move scholarship winner to study Classic Pastry Arts at the International Culinary Center of NY!

It was the day that changed my life forever and a day that I will never forget! It is now my sixth day in New York and I must say that I love it. There are so many things to do and see in this beautiful city. Most importantly I’m excited to start school on next Thursday. I look forward to learning everything I can to become the pastry chef that I hope to be one day.