Student becomes Teacher becomes Student

Teacher becomes Student becomes Teacher

It’s my husband’s last week of the school year and he is counting the days – NINE school days until graduation and the end of another academic year. This marks his 18th year teaching. I’ve been praying for him, the other teachers and the students this time of year when burn-out abounds and frustrations over-flow.

But today is special.

It is Saturday! The birds are chirping and a cool 70 degree breeze and blue sky greets us as we depart on our adventure: a PIZZA cooking class! 

We’re so excited that we arrive 30 minutes early to the strip mall that houses the Classic Cooking Academy and side restaurant PIZZETTA. It’s practically in our back yard at 10411 E McDowell Mountain Ranch Road.  We walk through the front doors of the school to a serendipitous surprise.

“Good morning. Hey?” Says the young man dressed in the chef’s smock checking us in at the front desk. “Didn’t you teach at Ironwood?” he says to my husband.

“Yes. It’s been a while…Aren’t you Christian, uh, what was your last name?”

“Driessens!” says the young man as the former student and his old teacher shake hands.

Teacher and student blog

The reminiscing begins as the two catch up, the surprise being that Chef Christian Driessens will be our instructor for the course!

Since we’re way early and the staff is still readying the area for the class, Teacher Bacon and I walk the strip mall.

“Wow. Almost didn’t recognize the kid,” he shakes his head and looks down, “He used to have long hair and always wore this attitude…like ‘I’m going to do what I want and school isn’t one of those things.’ You know? Square peg in the round hole.”  

We walk a little further and he begins Facebooking former teachers to let them know of this happy turn of events.

“See, the thing is, even back then, he loved the cooking stuff…and there was a teacher who helped point him in that direction…”

We return to the Academy kitchen and it begins:

Chef Driessens told us about himself. How, although he looks quite young, how he really had grown up “in the business” with both grandparents and parents who taught him along the way. How, right out of high school he had enough passion, interest and knowledge to get schooling that opened opportunities for him and how he interned at some of the valley finest dining spots and learned from some top chefs.

Following his introduction, he dug right in to the course, working his way through the topics like a pro. I floated above the moment, like the flames licking the top of the wood fired pizza oven from Italy. It was surreal to hear the masterful way this former student taught a packed kitchen full of teachers, microbiologists, (writers—-wink wink), couples and families. He schooled us on everything from the best flours and the structure of gluten and how it makes the elasticity of the dough, to the way the oven works to pull out moisture and create the perfect crust. 

Pizza oven teacher blog

Chef Driessens fielded questions about the best pizza stones to use in our own ovens, to storage methods of ingredients and the correct knives to use on romaine lettuce to avoid the rusty look.  I watched in fascination as he demonstrated his knowledge and expertise all the while whisking up a fantastic dressing, flipped out perfectly round pizza dough and created a masterpiece for us all to envy as we tried to re-create his instructions.

teacher blog two

Later, as we all chatted over our beautiful pizza pies, I watched as Chef “took the room.” He chatted with the biologists about his love for cars and all things fast. How his profession, that he loved, really fueled his hobby and first love of cars.  He detailed the benefits of Arizona Restaurant Week to the couple across from us. And spoke like a true professional about all the courses offered at the Classic Cooking Academy.

As I looked across at “my beloved teacher,” Keith, I saw his beaming face.

For a teacher, despite not knowing it at the time, despite thinking this long-haired, large attitude kid was not learning, there was a passion and a drive (pun-intended) that was at work behind the scenes of the school house walls.

I thought of all those teachers I had growing up who saw me for who I was, not just a number, a seat in second hour, or a grade in their roster. I thought of the teachers that took the time to find out about me and encourage me in that direction.

I wondered about all the teachers in Chef Driessens life that got him to where he was this day.

In the span of a few hours, I witnessed the teacher become student and student become teacher.  I learned not only how to utilize centrifugal force to flatten and stretch the perfect pizza dough, how to make fresh mayonnaise and fresh Caesar salad dressing, but also that not everything  that is learned is taught in school, but rather taught by people who care.

teacher blog three

Teachers be encouraged, don’t give up on students. And students, be encouraged, don’t give up on your teachers.

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UNIQUE

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CREATING YOU UNIQUE

Cooking shows have been around for years (like Julia Childs) and continue to grow in their popularity. Now, not only can you find them on the Food Network and cable channels, but prime time has hosted Master Chef, Hell’s Kitchen, The Taste and many more!

I love watching a master create a fabulous feast by utilizing everyday kitchen ingredients — like my mom at Thanksgiving ;). Sometimes these Master Chefs use the kitchen tools and gadgets only found in specialty stores, or an ingredient I have never heard of, but my favorite is when the creation is crafted from the mundane.

Isn’t that what creativity is about? Picking and choosing from the ordinary and, by someone’s special talent, gift or touch, morphing it into the extraordinary?!

…….

I was amped up from a day of pumpkin spice lattes and couldn’t get to sleep. I got to thinking how cooking parallels writing. A good writer can utilize the everyday mundane events, filter it through their perception and out oozes one of two things:

1)     A sumptuous, smooth, creamy concoction worthy of topping William and Kate’s wedding cake

OR, quite possibly,

2)     A travesty to the taste buds worthy only of “decorating” the nearest lawn as the latest fertilizer! (Get my drift?) Pee-ee you!

You win some, you lose some.

Yet, both serve a purpose. And #2 -no pun intended- very likely could’ve turned out to be the most fabulous fertilizer known to man!

—–

Whether your creation is cooking, painting, writing, decorating, building, acting, speaking, dancing, singing, parenting, managing or whatever-ing—There is only ONE YOU.

Your filters: your past, your life events, your perceptions, experiences and what makes up you, are completely and utterly unique to YOU.

You are one of a kind.

“You knit me together in my mother’s womb…I am fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13,14)

That always amazes me. The ultimate Craftsman, Creator and Master took the everyday ingredients of flesh and bone, hair, skin and cells and He creates a masterpiece each and every time. Something so diverse, there will never be another.

I work in the Identification Unit. Fingerprints are utilized to identify individuals because science has shown them to be unique and permanent.

Their genesis is in the womb and they persist past death.

They identify you as His unique creation.

Each and every fingerprint found on your hands (and feet) is absolutely unique. There never has been another with the same fingerprints and there never will be another, EVER, with the same.

That kind of creativity blows my mind.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle most nights with finding something new to throw together for dinner and often end up making the same old thing. Yet, our Creator never struggles. We are marked as His unique creation before we are born, created with grace and divinely unique through (and beyond) our death. A divine masterpiece each and every time!

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10)

So, whatever good works you were created for, my hope is that you recognize your uniqueness; you embrace YOU and all that went into you as a special creation.

And, like Kathryn Stockett from the movie The Help so beautifully put it, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

And, I would add, you is Unique!