the chicago debriefing

I’m back! After spending five days in Chicago, I’m plum exhausted. The trip was mostly about work, but I had plenty of down time to eat and drink and have an all around good time. My husband spent the first few days with me, and we had a blast playing tourist.

In the spirit of keeping it short and sweet, I’m sharing some photos from the trip. I think they’ll speak for themselves.

(Like my friend Jen (of Last Night’s Dinner) does with her Weekend Eats (And Drinks) posts, if you click on the pictures, it will take you to my Flickr stream where you can learn more about each image.)


purple flowers

chicago bean

john barleycorn

beers at john barleycorn

stained glass bistro

fish and gnocchi

eleven city diner


view from john hancock bulding

field museum

star of siam

chard and kindle

view from hotel room

hot doug's: sausage superstore

hot doug's menu

hot doug's hotdog

spiaggia menu

risotto with sea urchin & caviar

veal-filled pasta

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29 Responses to “culinary institute of america – the bootcamp, day one”

  1. Velva — October 2, 2011 @ 8:36 pm

    This is so exciting! What a great opportunity to experience a professional kitchen and culinary school life. Awesome!!!

  2. Heather in SF @HeatherHAL — October 2, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    I can’t wait to read your future posts, you did something I too have dreamed of doing. How exciting! Your pictures are wonderul, congratulations on doing this course!

  3. Macaroni Mama — October 2, 2011 @ 9:31 pm

    Oh, my goodness! Can’t wait to hear all the minute details of your time at the Culinary Institute.

  4. Snippets of Thyme — October 2, 2011 @ 9:51 pm

    This sounds like an incredible experience. I’ve been seeing your tweets about it and it is so fun to take a peek inside what it was like. I would just love this!

  5. Winnie — October 2, 2011 @ 10:02 pm

    GREAT recap MJ! Loved having you and it’s so fun to see what you were up to at the CIA 🙂

  6. So interesting to read the other side. Me … I went to culinary school full-time (here, I wrote all about it: “Culinary School: Three Semesters of Life, Learning, and Loss of Blood” – ). A different world. Indeed!

  7. Paula — October 2, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

    I have enough trouble preparing meals in my own kitchen…without anyone around me or watching me so I really commend you for taking this boot camp and preparing lunch (chicken and chips look great) in a kitchen that was new to you and with people you didn’t know. Enjoy reading about your first day and looking forward to hearing all about your second day.

  8. Irvin @ Eat the Love — October 2, 2011 @ 11:50 pm

    OMG. I love the idea of going to a book camp at CIA! What a great an experience. I’m impressed that you had time to actually take pictures in what I’m sure would be a super intense situation. I can’t wait to read the rest of your posts…

    Oh and the fried chicken looks better than finger lickin’ good!

  9. Gail — October 3, 2011 @ 7:51 am

    MJ, you took to this bootcamp like a duck to water (or should I say like duckfat to french fries?). Can’t wait to read part 2.
    Going to culinary school was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
    Great to see you this past weekend!!!

  10. So glad you had a great time!!! And Chef Bruno is fantastic! It was great getting to see you and I can’t wait to read part two!

  11. FUN!

  12. DessertForTwo — October 3, 2011 @ 9:47 am

    How fun! Thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  13. Maggie @ kitchie coo — October 3, 2011 @ 11:21 am

    Oh! This was so fun to read!! I have been dying to take one of these classes and so glad to hear it is well worth it. I found your blog from the CIA Facebook Page. Nice! Can’t wait to read more!

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

      Stay tuned! Part 2 coming later this week…

  14. Jason — October 3, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

    I am signed up for the week long boot camp in San Antonio next month, Im getting very excited! It’s really cool that you had time to snap a new photos, did you use a point and shoot for an SLR? What did you guys do the second day?

    • Merry-Jennifer

      Merry-Jennifer replied: — October 3rd, 2011 @ 1:22 pm

      Jason, you’ll have a blast. I used a point-and-shoot since I could carry it in my jacket pocket. I asked Chef at the beginning of the course if it would be okay and he was great about letting me. Stay tuned for my wrap up of day 2, coming later this week!

  15. Kate Defrise — October 3, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    I love this. My family gave me a week-long bootcamp for my birthday and I’m planning on going in January. I am so excited! And a bit intimidated. Thanks for sharing your experience. Do tell about day 2

  16. sweetsugarbelle — October 3, 2011 @ 5:37 pm

    You are so lucky…this looks fun.

  17. Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) — October 3, 2011 @ 6:45 pm

    I definitely looked into this program too! Sounded like a lot of fun and a great way to experience it in a short, more affordable time frame. Good for you!

    Looking forward to reading more about the experience…

  18. Brian @ A Thought For Food — October 4, 2011 @ 8:00 am

    And proud you should be! What a marvelous experience and the food looks divine!

  19. Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — October 4, 2011 @ 8:06 am

    MJ – I’ve been to some culinary courses here at George Brown which is pretty amazing by my dream is the CIA. Even just for a bootcamp like this – I would give my eye teeth. Looks like it was everything you imagined and more – can’t wait to read Part II!

  20. Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — October 4, 2011 @ 11:02 am

    I LOVE this post. I feel like I was there with you. I would be so nervous too, I appreciate how honestly written this is. I would love to do one of these bootcamps but I would be so scared!

  21. Lemon — October 4, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

    This sounds so exciting, such a great experience you had. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Nutmeg Nanny — October 5, 2011 @ 11:45 am

    I love these bootcamps…I really need to take one!

  23. Oh man, this takes me back to my early days of culinary school. You captured the stress of working in an unfamiliar kitchen with strangers, looking for missing ingredients, cooking utensils, and delivering a meal on time perfectly plated. Good for you for doing this!!! It will be a great experience to look back on I’m sure!!!

  24. Pingback: culinary institute of america - the boot camp, day two | The Merry Gourmet

  25. Kim in TX — October 16, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    I’m so jealous! 🙂

  26. jenjenk — October 20, 2011 @ 10:31 am

    Your chicken looked BEAUTIFUL!! and oh so tasty!!!

  27. Jenna — October 21, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    I live near Hyde Park, and every time I drive by the CIA, I fantasize about going there. I didn’t realize they offered bootcamps, I will have to look into that!

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