Tour of France: Some Stories, and Some Advice

By Krissy Alfes

Now that the winter term is in full swing, most sophomores are going to be embarking on their trip to France, Bahamas, and Florida while the seniors are beginning to plan for their trip to England six months later. Check out the Tours here! I €™ve been asked by a handful of people, €œWhat was it like to go to France? €

Let me share some stories, and some advice.

It was the last week of January when I went on my trip to France with my graduating class, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Due to the crazy snow storm that hit the city that year, I was fortunate enough to get an extra day in Paris. After a restless flight, we poured into the city at one in the afternoon.

Disclaimer: This was my first trip abroad.

Getting to have a few hours to ourselves, my friends and I wondered the immediate area. Not only did we see beautiful architecture, but my two friends and I got swindled out of $10 each by hustlers. What happened? We were walking up to the Sacre Cour and there were a group of men who were traveling Europe from Nigeria. They were making bracelets and striking up conversations with obvious tourists, aka me. They wrapped the string around your wrist, and talk to you as they’re weaving the string and they don €™t let you go unless you give them money for their €œgift €.

Advice: If you see street performers, be wary. They €™re smarter than you think you are.

Okay, so I €™m out of $10, whatever. We get back on the move and head to Dizy, Champagne. I had the opportunity to stay on a beautiful vineyard; since it was winter, the vintners were preparing the fields for the end of the season. This is where they prune the branches of the vines and burn them on the field to keep the soil rich. The air was filled with the scent of red wine and there was nothing but mountains and wine fields for miles. The next day, we visit G. Brunt Champagne and we explore the little town. We had dinner at Le Cave de Champagne; we were seated in a private room, with red walls and a very romantic vibe. There was a three course dinner where Champagne was put in every dish. I don €™t think I can describe how delicious the Salmon with the champagne burre blanc was. That night, I also had the opportunity to saber a bottle of champagne before dessert (Saber: it was originally used in military ceremonies where someone takes a sword to cut the glass neck of the bottle with a ceremonious €œpop €).

Not going to lie, it took me three tries, and I managed to shoot the top of the bottle down the hallway of the restaurant into the front room €¦ At the end of the dinner, Chef came out for a little Q&A.

Here is his advice: €œThis is a hard industry, you must have passion, and you must work hard- to work hard at what you do, you must love it. €

A couple of days in, Mr. Simonis and Chef McManus took my group to Le Chaeau de Close du Vogoute. This is where the Tastvin society was founded. It was originally a group of monks who would make wine, then would hold meetings to taste and evaluate the wine for religious reasons. After looking at 18th century wine presses, we headed to Beaune for some late night shopping. I didn €™t shop, but I did sit down with Chef McManus over a cup of warm red wine and learned about her childhood, how she met her husband, and what made her come to the states and start Le Bus Bakery.

The next day, we had dinner in Burgundy at a family €™s winery that was so friendly we didn’t have an empty glass of wine all night. The food, oh the food, it was the definition of family style. Beef bourgeon that was so hearty it reminded me of home, escargot with an herb butter and red wine, and cassis sorbet. The bus ride back to the hotel was filled with everyone on the bus singing Bohemian Rhapsody, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, and every 90 €™s song you could imagine. This was the moment we all were more than just students, or colleagues, but friends.

The rest of the trip followed the same turn of events: explore the city, drink some wine, and go to a restaurant. I have to say the market place in Dijon was the biggest store/market place I have ever walked through, the cathedrals in Axurre were the most beautiful pieces of architecture I have ever walked through, Pasqual €™s foie farm was the most decedent foie gras I have ever tasted, and after being lost in Paris for the day avoiding the cab riots, the Eiffel tower was stunning to see at night.

We ended our last dinner as a group at Hostellerie de Levemois where the dining floor manager gave us these parting words:

€œWhatever you do, do it with your heart. €


My advice to you:

Don €™t be afraid to explore – Plan your day, wonder around, you’ll never experience the country if you never leave your room. Just be aware of everything and everyone around you.

Ask questions €“ Everyone at the wineries, restaurants, and stores you visit know you’re a student and are looking to learn. They share your passion for food, its natural to want to talk.

Be humble – Yes the days are long, yes you will be learning and being tested on the daily, and moved around quite a bit; but before you allow the exhaustion to hinder your mood, realize where you are and the opportunity you are given.

Enjoy Yourself €“ It may not be a vacation, but it also doesn €™t have to be as stressful as if you are in school.

Explore, learn, and embrace the culture.

-Krissy Alfes, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of July 2017

Revamping the Honor Society at Walnut Hill College

By Greg Hook

Starting something new is always exciting €¦and challenging. When I came back to campus for my final year this past September, it €™s always helpful to go to our club fair we hold and find out what €™s happening around campus. It €™s always helpful to go to the club fair because you can see what is important to you, others, and the college. Being my last year, I have attended, participated in, or been a part of many clubs on campus and it was nice to see the familiar faces of Hospitality club, cocktail club, and wine club. However, there was a new booth this year though and that was represented by the Honor Society. Eta Sigma Delta, a student organization through the Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education (CHRIE), was once a part of the Walnut Hill College community and a member of our faculty wanted to restart our chapter.

Understanding this was the first club our advisor was heading as well as never starting a club myself, I immediately took on the new challenge. Over the course of the past term and the start of this one, the Honor Society has met multiple times, creating a small group of members that come every week. Once we had a small group, we nominated some club officers, president, vice president, secretary, and treasurer. I was very happy when I won the nomination for president, even if it was uncontested, but even happier for the others who could become a part of something and felt the need to take ownership of it.

Our first goal was to get involved on campus and so I reached out to other Student Leaders and what they were up to. Our first response was from Dan Singer and how he wanted to help feed people in need for Thanksgiving. While he had a vision, he needed some help and newer Honor Society members stepped right up. With his organization, our help, and the donations and kindness of many people within the Walnut Hill College community, we could donate an entire van €™s load of food to the church for Thanksgiving.
Through this process, I realize we are only as strong as those behind us and starting the Honor Society has been a new experience. We have members in place for the club and people willing to support each other €™s goals. Now we look to the future to apply and become members of Eta Sigma Delta as a renewed Chapter here at Walnut Hill College.

For more information about the Honor Society at Walnut Hill College, you can contact me at or contact Ms. Bloome our Director of Student & Community Engagement  at The Eta Sigma Delta International Hospitality Management Society is a student organization for CHRIE, the Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education, and their website may be found at

-Greg Hook, Student LeaderRestaurant Management, Class of July 2017

Getting to know Chef Braley

By Cecelia Johnson-Chavis

I have had the pleasure of working with Chef Braley in operations, but I know that there are many students who haven €™t yet crossed his path. As a result, for this month €™s blog, I decided to interview our newest Chef Instructor, Chef Braley. The interview starts below €¦

CJ: The first question €™s easy. Did you always know that you wanted to cook professionally?

TB: Uh no, I did everything I could to avoid it (laughs). No, I €™ve been cooking since I was a little kid but I never thought it was something I would do professionally, just kind of a passion. I went to school for sociology and I wanted to teach college sociology, which didn €™t end up happening. I went instead and got a degree in secondary social studies to teach high school social studies, which I never did (laughs again) because I did my student teaching and realized that I didn €™t know anything about global studies €¦I knew sociology. So from the time that I was 13 or 14 on I was learning the trades, so I was an electrician and a carpenter. All throughout college I was doing that on the side and that €™s what I ended up doing after college instead of teaching until I figured out what I was going to do next. So I did that for a while and I ended up catering my brother €™s rehearsal dinner for his wedding at my parents €™ house on Cape Cod. It was 50 people and it took me like five days to prep. I did it pretty much by myself, but I could do the same menu by five o €™clock today (laughing and looking at his watch) and its 2:50. But I had so much fun that whole week that I was like €œthis is what I want to do €, so I took another construction job down here in Pennsylvania. I €™m originally from New York, and I managed the renovation of a house in Wayne for a year and saved money to come to school here. I came and lived with my sister here in West Philly while I went to school, and originally thought I was going to do catering €¦ and then I started doing catering while I was in culinary school and was working in a restaurant at the same time and then I realized that catering was just schlepping stuff from one place to another. Cooking in a restaurant was much more, to me, like playing a piano. Everything is right there at your fingertips. It €™s probably more like an organ because everything €™s moving.

CJ: As an alumnus and now as an instructor, is there anything that you wish you had taken greater advantage of while you were a student here?

TB: I took pretty good advantage actually. I had very good relationships with the instructors that I had and most of them took me under their wing in one respect or another. And I did work really, really hard when I was here even though I was working full time in a restaurant and getting crushed on a day to day. But I think I did pretty well as far as taking advantage of the instructors that I had and their experience, and their willingness to share their experiences.

CJ: I remember once you said that when you reach a major milestone you like to treat yourself to something new. Do you try to make it relevant to the achievement or is it just something that you €™ve had your eye on?

TB: This is the first job that I €™ve taken that I haven €™t done it yet, and that €™s mostly just because I haven €™t had time. It takes a little bit of my time, but I usually buy a knife for myself.

CJ: Do you have something in mind for this one?

TB: Possibly a Deba fish knife, and I €™m not sure what the second runner up is, but basically from my first job on, each job that I €™ve taken usually within a month or two I usually end up buying a new knife for myself €¦or I get one for Christmas or something, but it €™s always correlated to the timeline of the career. It €™s a nice way to look back and be like €œI got this when I was at the Ritz, I got this when I was here €, so it €™s usually a knife (laughs).

CJ: Can you recall any particular dish or plate that you composed that you were especially proud of?

TB: Hmm, that €™s a tough one. At the restaurant, we had one dish that never changed. Every other dish changed constantly, and it was a saffron and mussel dish. I guess I would probably have to say that that was my signature dish at any time because that €™s the only dish that €™s never changed. So everything else was always whatever was in season, whatever we could get from the farmers. So I guess it would be the mussel dish. It €™s a ridiculous amount of butter, a ridiculous amount of Dijon mustard, and then saffron steeped in white wine and mussels, and that €™s pretty much it. It usually doesn €™t need much seasoning because of the brininess of the mussels and then everyone thinks the sauce is great, but they don €™t realize it €™s pretty much 80% butter and then the mustard. That would probably be my signature dish.

CJ: Do you have a favorite tool in your kit right now?
TB: My spoon.

CJ: Is it a tasting spoon €¦plating spoon?

TB: I think it probably would be considered a plating spoon. A lot of chefs use the same one. It €™s the grey Kunz design spoon. I think you can get it online. I know JB Prince in New York used to be the only one that sold it but now I think you can get it pretty much anywhere.

CJ: Why is it your favorite?

TB: It €™s just the perfect balance, the perfect size €¦If I had two tools it would be my one chef €™s knife that I bought on my trip to France and it would be my spoon. I pretty much cook anything with those two things. Pack light.

CJ: You €™ve catered, you €™ve owned a restaurant, now you €™re teaching €¦ Is there any other sector of the industry on your list that you hope to tackle?

TB: I €™ve done a little bit of food styling, I did it for a kids television show. I €™d like to do more food styling sometime cause that was a lot of fun, and someday I €™d like to do a cookbook. I would definitely like to do a cookbook at some point. We thought we were going to get it together for the restaurant, and then running a restaurant took precedence. But yeah, someday I would like to do a cookbook.

CJ: I do have one more question. Do you have a favorite breakfast food? Do you eat breakfast?

TB: Oh boy, not normally, because for somebody who has chickens in his backyard, I €™ve got plenty of eggs. But actually my favorite breakfast food is taking almost any leftover and serving it with an egg. So whether it €™s beef bourguignon or braised chicken or whatever and have it with a poached egg as the sauce, kind of makes anything breakfast.

-Cecelia Johnson-Chavis, Student LeaderCulinary Arts, Class of March 2018