Arthur Grady was in the second-floor kitchen in MacDonaldHall on a Wednesday in December chopping shallots and prepping roasted shrimpshells for a Fregola Sarda e Fruti di Maredish (Sardinian couscous with shell fish broth) that would later be served inthe student-run Signatures Restaurant at SUNY Delhi.
The shrimp shells, he explained, would be cooked down withthe shallots and fennel to create the broth. A 29-year-old Army veteran, Arthurseemed at ease in the bustling but orderly kitchen, where instructions areanswered with a curt and loud, “Yes, chef!”
The Oneonta native calls himself an “atypical student.”
“A lot of people thatI graduated [high school] with came here,” he said. “But I went to the Army.”
He served for seven years, including a three-year infantrytour in Iraq and three years as a paralegal. During his service, he said, hetold himself that if and when he got out, he would follow his passion and pursuea culinary education.
He’s now in his second year of a Culinary Arts degree.
“This is just a passion for me,” he said. “It’s not aboutjust working to get paid.”
This semester, he’s been working in various roles at SUNYDelhi’s student-run Signatures Restaurant as part of his Culinary Restaurantcourse. Like all students in the course, Arthur has been involved in planningand preparing five-course, tasting-style menus from a variety of cuisines,constructing menus, pairing wines, and presenting and serving food to real,paying customers.
The dish he was working on Wednesday afternoon would befollowed up by Pappardelle con Ragu diConiglio e Funghi (pappardelle, rabbit, and mushroom ragout) and Brasato di Manzo Agrodolce con Fave eCicoria (sweet and sour braised beef, fava bean puree, and bitter greens).Behind him, another student began prepping whole rabbits and another rolled outpasta.
“I had never done the front-of-the-house, like being awaiter,” Arthur said. “[The] Restaurant [course] is good because it makes youdo both. You have to learn how to serve people and talk to people. I alwayswanted to know how to do that but never had the opportunity.”
In the kitchen, the experience also prepares him and otherstudents to expect and adapt to the varying management and culinary styles ofdifferent chefs. “When you go out and experience it, you’re going to see that —different chefs do different things, prefer different things,” he said.
After graduation, Arthur plans to travel — maybe to Ireland,or back to Germany — to gain experience before settling into his owncareer.
“With culinary being a trade skill and an internationalskill, it opens a lot of doors,” he said. “I want to continue learning, but Iwant to get real-world learning when it comes to cooking and different recipesbefore I form my own opinion.”