5 cooks walk into a bar…

Q: What happens when you put 5 cooks–1 Swiss, 1 German, 1 Dane, and 2 Americans–in the Spanish countryside far from the city, on an empty college campus, and give them run of the place with a personal chef and staff at their disposal?

A: They will corrupt the private chef and staff, find the nearest bar and close it down almost every night (even if that bar is several kilometers away), and much debauchery shall ensue each and every day.

Such is the case in this latest installment, as our team of 5 deviants arrives at the Universidad Carlos III in the outskirts of Madrid to begin an intensive language course and introduction to Spanish cuisine and culture.

As for the rest of the ICEX scholarship winners, they opted to attend language courses in their home countries– thus, the gauntlet has been thrown down at the flip-flop bedecked feet of our motley crew to make up for our missing brethren.

In keeping with the questionable traditions of our profession, our mornings begin with nutrition to offset the previous night’s activities–in the form of mass quantities of cafe con leche, botellas de agua, and bollitos de chocolate (all except for our Swiss friend, who consumes hot chocolate every morning–further perpetuating the stereotype that Swiss people need daily chocolate infusions to survive).

The morning fesivities

The morning fesivities

During breakfast, our chef, Juan–who bears such a striking resemblence to José Andrés that I jump when I hear his booming Catalan voice– takes our lunch and dinner orders. On this day, he honored our request for a traditional Spanish lunch of gazpacho followed by chorizo con juevos–which, to a group of cooks with a collective mental age of 12, meant many jokes about a long sausage plated with a fried egg on either side.

Our cocinero, Juan

Our cocinero, Juan

From there, we go to our classroom for 8 hours  of work (broken up by a break and lunch of Juan’s sausage–insert joke here). Our language course is food and kitchen based; however, since Paras and I have more experience speaking Spanish than our partners in crime (all of whom speak at least 3 other languages each!), we are starting with the basics for a few weeks.

And how do you keep a group of cooks with a collective ability to focus for a span of 42 seconds interested in learning the basics of Spanish language and grammar? One way is to base those lessons on how to properly order beverages at the local bar:

Spanish libations 101

Spanish libations 101

After classes end, a quick siesta leads to dinner and an evening of studying spanish–most often at the local bar into the wee hours amongst tapas, beverages, and with the help of whatever members of the local female population that Don Juan can cajole into our brood. 

After all, the more studying we do, the more we will learn, right?!

Here now, dear reader, please meet our merry band of rabble: 

Big Papa Paras

Big Papa Paras

Name: Paras S.
Codename: P Diddy, Big P, Papi chulo
Origin: USA, New York
Cooking history: ICEX culinary degree, Per Se & Momofuku alumnus

Don Juan

Don Juan

Name: Jean-Phillipe S.
Codename: Don Juan, Señor Pantalones con queso
Origin: Germany
Cooking history: 1, 2, & 3 star-Michelin restaurants, German & Swiss restaurant alumnus, French-cuisine badass

Kid Chocolate

Kid Chocolate

Name: Simon A.
Nickname: Boy Wonder, Kid Choco
Origin: Berne, Switzerland
Cooking history: 5-star hotel chef de partie, sous chef extradordinaire, culinary award winner

Ham-let

Ham-let

Name: Emil T.
Nickname: Ham-let, Punching bag
Origin: Coppenhagen, Denmark
Cooking history: 1 & 2-star Michelin restaurants, rocking poissonnier (fish cook)

El Pelón

El Pelón

Name: Jeff W.
Nickname: El Pelón
Origin: USA, California
Cooking History: Cornell University student, Jaleo w/ José Andrés, Lion & Compass restaurant

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One Response to “5 cooks walk into a bar…”

  1. It looks to me like Emil is challenging you in the Coolest Sunglasses Competition. Are you going to take that?

    🙂

    I am so glad to read (and even more glad to SEE) that you are having fun . . . hope the posts won’t all in Spanish after these 4 weeks!

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