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Paul Smith’s College

I recently had the opportunity to shoot for two days at the culinary program at Paul Smith’s College, thanks in large part to the recommendation of Chef Kevin McCarthy, whom I first met during a shoot at the nearby Lake Placid Lodge a couple years ago for Santé magazine. The campus is located west of Saranac Lake, NY on the northern shore of Lower Saint Regis Lake and the surrounding landscape is quintessential Adirondacks. I was immediately impressed with talents and seriousness of the students and the hands-on approach in which the faculty worked with them to guide them through their culinary and pastry programs. I could have easily posted twice as many shots from this shoot but here are some of my favorites. In addition to the Hospitality and Culinary Arts Management program is a comprehensive Forestry program, in which we had time to shoot the equine and the impressive maple sugaring labs (It was in the end of March and the sap was starting to flow with the melting snow).

I hope to return to the area with Colleen this summer (when it’s not mud season), and if someday our boys want to learn the culinary trade I would not hesitate to enroll them in this program. Every student I talked to loved this school and couldn’t say enough about how positive a learning experience they had, with many of them transitioning into jobs right out of school.

Chef Kevin McCarthy evaluating the student's plate presentation

Students being evaluated by their instructor for taste, presentation, and creativity

Chef McCarthy tending to his micro-green seedlings

Fennel & Cherry Tomato Tart (part of a "Final Exam" where the student creates the menu concept and table design and manages the kitchen and servers in a full seven-course meal to guests in the mock restaurant. This particular student utilized barn boards, sunflowers, and mason jar candles as the table centerpiece, so we decided to use it for the backdrop of her final presentation dishes. From the glowing remarks from the instructor I'm pretty sure this student got an A!)

Sprouted Wheatberry and Quinoa Salad

Orange Tarragon Lollipop (to cleanse the palate)

Chef Instructor Sarah Longley critiques the meals courses prior to the first of two guest seatings in the adjoining "restaurant". (The student is also evaluated on how well they manage the "staff" of fellow students during the meal prep, plating, and service of 30 or so guests of family and friends.)

Baking and Pastry professor Deborah Misik worked with students to prepare a wedding cake.

Tools of the trade