What’s Cookin’: Seniors work at Montage, prepare for future careers in culinary arts

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By Monica Clark 2011

As seniors begin preparing for college and the great unknown, seniors Sarah Leedom and Dalton Ford are busy getting a head start, pursuing careers in the delectable world of culinary arts.

Leedom and Ford both work at Montage regularly as they balance school work and classes.

“I work at Montage and RGIS. I’m not really stressed because I’m not taking hard classes this year,” Leedom said.

Leedom works 20 to 25 hours a week along with the hours she spends at RGIS.

Ford’s schedule, on the other hand, is random each week.

“It varies greatly—some weeks a grand total of five, some 15 or more,” Ford said.

Before Leedom started working as a chef, she was a dishwasher at Montage.

“I had a really short interview to become a dishwasher, and after a while I just asked to be moved up to work in the kitchen,” Leedom said.

Ford got the job when his small group leader told him Montage needed cooks. Because of his friends, CF graduate Karl Renfro and junior Ben Ulfers, he got the job.

Leedom and Ford both have role models and helpful people that have pushed them to keep cooking and pursuing their interests.

“I learned how to cook myself, but there are some really nice people at Montage that have helped a lot,” Leedom said.

Ford draws inspiration from his family.

“I started cooking when I was eight,” he said. “My grandma has encouraged me a lot, but my family has really encouraged me since they like to eat what I make.”

Although chefs like Leedom and Ford are exposed to a wide variety of foods, even they can get tired of making some dishes.

“I get really tired of making the seasonal pasta. It has pumpkin and stuff in it. It’s kind of gross after a while,” Leedom said, “but my favorite stuff to make is Crab Rangoon, sesame chicken and mostly Asian cuisine.”

Ford agreed that things can get a little boring after a while.

“[The] roasted veggies are a pain. So are the veggie skewers,” Ford said.

Ford, however, isn’t as picky.

“I just love to cook,” he said.

However, things don’t always sail smoothly for the aspiring chefs. Working in a kitchen can be very stressful.

“There’s been some pretty big parties when I was first starting out because Brown Bottle was still closed. It got a little hectic then, but you really just have to roll with the punches … or wait to cry till you get home. I chose a combination of the two,” Ford said.

Leedom’s misfortunes involve injury.

“I was cooking when it was really busy, and since the ovens are really deep and narrow, when I brought my hand out, I banged it on the top, and I burned my hand really bad, but I
still had to keep working,” Leedom said.

Both plan to pursue their careers further.

“I plan to go to the Art Institute in Minneapolis for four years. After that I plan to go to Philadelphia to cook. I hope to have my own restaurant in the future,” Leedom said.

Leedom is already brainstorming the details regarding her future restaurant.

“I want it to be in either Denver or Philadelphia, and I want to have global cuisine,” Leedom said.

Although his choice of college is still unknown, Ford also has a pretty good inkling of what his future restaurant will be like.

“I don’t have a name for it really. I would like to do a lot of comfort foods—stuff that fills you up and make you feel good in the process. It’d most likely be a pretty crazy place too, just because that’s how I am and how I’d want to manifest that in my restaurant and my cooking.”

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