Professional Cooking Experience

After graduating from The College of New Jersey, I spent three years cooking professionally at a small, formal restaurant in Princeton, NJ.

Mistral was a magical and enlightening place for me. It was fast, artful, and brimming with life. A rotating cast of characters included cooks, bartenders, visiting guests, and late-night regulars from all walks of life who would gather on the terrace and share stories from their banks and law firms and studios, or their night of service at the restaurant down the street.

Students from the university, former students from everywhere, students of English language, workers saving tips for graduate school: this is a city of learners, and Mistral was no exception. Chefs Ben Nerenhausen and Scott Anderson were constantly pushing the limit, or else were exhibiting intentional restraint, letting the ingredients speak for themselves. They were always learning, and always teaching. We were a collective of nomads, and we were hungry for knowledge.

The experimental and investigative nature of the work, paired with the speed and intensity required in the industry made way for seemingly endless wonder. I cherish the time I spent toiling away over even the most rote of assignments. I learned so deeply and so rapidly that I often wonder if I’ll ever match the experience. Will this or that endeavor be “enough” for me?

This notion has contributed greatly to my decision to pursue a career in dentistry. Due in large part to my time in the kitchen, I’ve come to know myself as a person and as a worker much more thoroughly than I had prior, for example, as an undergraduate. I know that I need intensity and rigor, which I believe I will be afforded in dental school and thereafter as I continue to learn and grow in the profession. I need to serve and to work toward the mitigation of large-scale issues, like dental public health and access to care, which I can achieve through voluntary service. I need to work with my hands and eyes, of which I am highly capable after a lifetime of artistic pursuits honing my coordination and dexterity.

Finally, I know that I want to commit myself to a single, singular professional road. I have so enjoyed the privilege of trying my hand at a number of fields–cooking, teaching English, immigration law. Now, as I continue to learn every day about dentistry and orthodontics through work and volunteer positions, I feel myself coming home, settling into something permanent and sustainable and right. I am eager to advance my skills and knowledge through continued academic studies and through hands-on experience in dentistry. I am likewise eager to continue on the lifelong path of becoming, and I believe these professional and personal endeavors are part of my story.

blessing the boats


                                    (at St. Mary’s)

may the tide
that is entering even now
the lip of our understanding
carry you out
beyond the face of fear
may you kiss
the wind then turn from it
certain that it will
love your back     may you
open your eyes to water
water waving forever
and may you in your innocence
sail through this to that

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