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Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Death of Sunshine


     This post is titled so because it discusses the slow breakdown of my friend Kaitlin Hill, in our Meat Fabrication class. Kaitlin is a small blond-haired girl from Fairfax, Virginia who loves to bake. She entered the culinary program so she could obtain a better understanding of the culinary side of running her own business one day. I have tremendous respect for her because of that, and even more now for what she has to witness in meat class.
At one point today Chef Elia is sawing off the chine bone (part of the backbone) with a hacksaw, and cutting it off at the seam with a sharp knife. You can here the sound of bone being cut, and even worse, the sound of flesh tearing as he pry's off the "deckle" with his hands. I immediately glance in Kaitlin's direction who at this point is bug-eyed with both hands covering her mouth. Being 90% vegetarian like lots of girls are(will eat deli turkey sandwiches) it can be a horrific site to see bloody red meat hacked with a saw. There are definitely a few times this week where I thought for sure Kaitlin was going to faint in class, but she powered through it. 
    Day 2 she was cleaning up her station with a sanitation rag after we cut a large piece of meat into cubes. I walked by to see if she was okay only to find her with a blank emotionless face staring off into space as she mopped up pools of blood and meat fragments with a bloodied sanitation rag. She looked like she was in a daze similar to Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan when an explosion on the beach leaves him in a momentary daze while a soldier is looking to him for orders. He picks up his blood-filled helmet, shakes himself off and presses on. That is in essence, what Kaitlin looked like on that day.
    Its a day-by-day process for her, being exposed to some of the horrors of meat fabrication but she is still showing up each day. Something I know she will continue to do for the duration of this class and in our eventual transition into fish fabrication (even more gruesome since we will be gutting some of the fish we fabricate). I tease her from time to time...ok a lot because this class is a complete 180 from her always sunny outlook on life. Kaitlin acquired the nickname "sunshine" for a reason, and I can tell meat fabrication is her krytonite, but I know she will prevail with the rest of us, and become a stronger person because of it. So Kaitlin, don't say you never got your own post, girl. Be good people.  

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