Just weeks after taking Culinary Boot Camp—Basic Training, Dr. Norris Chumley was enthusiastically putting what he learned into practice.
“Before Boot Camp, I didn’t feel like I was in control of my cooking,” he says. “In my kitchen, we had only two small areas for prepping and cooking. After I got home from Boot Camp, I set it up like the kitchen at the CIA. My wife thought I was crazy. We now have an area for garde manger, an area for mise en place, and another for cooking and grilling.
“My cooking is so much better than it used to be. Boot Camp stretched me—I had some bad habits, and now I have a set of new, good habits. I study my recipes in advance, time out how long they will take, have all of my tools together, keep my knives sharp and safe, and have an efficient layout. I know a lot of different cooking methods, like poaching, steaming, and sautéing. Plus, now I can make really good fried chicken! I learned why it’s so important to marinate it beforehand.”
A successful film/TV media producer and author, Dr. Chumley loves to cook and dreamed of coming to the CIA for many years. Boot Camp fit the bill. “The idea of five whole days completely immersed in cooking was really appealing, and the actual experience far exceeded my expectations,” he says. “Not only did I get hands-on training, but I also learned about theory, food science, and flavor. And I learned a lot from making mistakes; Chef Bruno made it a comfortable environment to do that. I dared to try new things and experiment.
Food has great meaning for Dr. Chumley, and he brought that perspective to Boot Camp. “Food and eating, gathering together and sharing, is a spiritual event; food should be treated in a careful and spiritual way.” It’s a hard-won outlook. “I used to weigh 413 pounds, and I’ve gained and lost about 1,500 pounds in my life,” he says. “I’ve been at my current weight for about 26 years, and I did it the right way—I learned to enjoy exercise, got therapy, and learned about nutrition and how to cook for myself. I shared my story as part of the class introductions, and later, Chef Bruno said to me, ‘I’ve learned something over the years. I taste, I don’t eat.’ I took that home with me: there is so much good food at the CIA, but I don’t need to finish the whole plate to have the culinary experience. I actually lost weight during my week at Boot Camp!”
Dr. Chumley is committed to sharing his message and new culinary knowledge with others. “I’m working on a pilot for a new TV show that I’ll be hosting about getting together, eating, and living life to the fullest, and what I learned in Boot Camp is helping me do that.”
Stay tuned; you’ll likely hear more from this Boot Camper—or meet up with him in the CIA kitchens. He’s already making plans to return for another Boot Camp.
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