Some people thrive on the heat and action of the kitchen. But for others, like Tony Miller, one of the pleasures of cooking is the exact opposite experience. “Cooking for me is a way to de-stress and relax,” he says. “When you’re chopping vegetables, you go into a Zen moment. It’s meditative.”
While he thrives on the mindful aspect of cooking, Tony also enjoys testing his skills. “I came to The Best of Boot Camp because I wanted something that would challenge me,” he says. “For someone who likes food and has the basics, Boot Camp is perfect. The lectures, demos, guidance from the chef, and team building are great. If I could, I’d bring my whole team from the university here.”
The oldest of seven kids, Tony did a lot of the cooking while he was growing up in Ohio. Now a professor in the Physician Assistant Program in the School of Health Professions at Shenandoah University in Winchester, VA, he once dreamed of opening his own restaurant, but ultimately decided to focus on cooking as an avocation. “I love the creativity of cooking,” he says. “It’s a nice balance with my job teaching, and my wife and I like to entertain.”
That they do. In addition to cooking for friends and family, each year Tony offers a highly sought-after five-course meal in his home as a silent auction prize for a student fundraiser at the university.
So what does a guy like Tony, who clearly knows his way around a kitchen, get out of The Best of Boot Camp? After just two days into the program, the answer is: a lot. “Every day there’s about 10 pointers I pick up,” he says. “I had wondered if I wouldn’t really learn much that I didn’t already know, but that definitely hasn’t been the case. Plus, Day 4 will be baking, which scares me a little because I mostly cook.”
Asked about his favorite part of his Boot Camp vacation, Tony is emphatic. “Everything! I like the cooking, the plating, and the eating. We’ve got five teams and each one makes four dishes, so we’ve got 20 different things to eat for lunch. I had a tremendous time, and came away with a new and deeper respect for chefs and all who work in the industry.
“Boot Camp is really fun,” he continues. “My only regret is that I wish I would have had someone come with me, but my brother and my wife couldn’t get away. We have a brother and sister, and a pair of honeymooners in my class. If you can bring someone to Boot Camp, it’s a bonding experience.”
Do you Zen out at the cutting board? Does cooking bring you closer together with friends and family? You’ll fit right in at CIA Boot Camp—register now >