I took my first exam in seven years today.

It was unlike any I had taken before.

When I think “exam,” I immediately think: essays, formulas, pages of multiple-choice questions, a cavernous study hall, row after row of desks, silence, cramped hands from writing under duress. Until today, my mind did not think: 5 recipes, 3 hours, 1 plate.

That, however, was the nature of today’s; the culmination of my six weeks in Lab CM03, the Basic Food Preparation kitchen at Red River College.

Six weeks ago, I wouldn’t have believed I could finish such an exam, let alone do well on it. And yet, six weeks later, I was able to walk into that kitchen, select a sheet of paper on which were written the names of five recipes (pork cutlets; brown sauce; braised red cabbage; scalloped potatoes; minestrone soup), and, within three hours, produce all five from scratch.

It was intense, to be sure. But it was a good kind of intensity; the kind that inspires and encourages.

Sure, I could have done better: there was too much béchamel in the scalloped potato dish; too little braising liquid had evaporated from the red cabbage; I outright forgot the minestrone’s spaghetti. Still, all in all, I did pretty well.

While I can’t say for certain how I’ll do on future exams, I’m definitely enjoying today’s small victory.


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