Monday, April 9, 2012

Waiting to exhale

The mood was noticeably altered at Liaison last week, charging the afternoon ambiance with a tension that was almost tangible. After fifteen weeks of culinary classes, the students were put through the rigours of exams, in the kitchen and in the classroom.

Cook Basic students did all their prep work on Tuesday for their hands-on exam the following day. On a set schedule Wednesday afternoon, they turned out their dishes for the chef-instructors to mark on timing, presentation and taste. The tension subsided as one-by-one they learned how they fared, then headed home to cram for just a few more hours.

The ever-active kitchen was hauntingly silent on Thursday as the students bowed their heads over exam papers, challenged to remember the theory they learned more than ten weeks ago. Though they applied their book knowledge almost daily in the kitchen, they were reserved until after their papers were marked.

Waiting to exhale, three young men checked the job board, shifted and paced, their nervousness disguised in jocular humour. The women made notes, quick calls to family, or chatted in low tones about future plans.

That collective sigh, when it came, was worth the wait. Hugs, laughter, whoops of excitement: they’ll be back for an official graduation, but this was their crowning moment when the air cleared, the mood lifted and they prolonged their goodbyes for one more minute of camaraderie.

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