Hi, my name is Isaac Appel and I am an English major and rising junior at Skidmore! This summer I had the incredible privilege to receive Skidmore’s summer internship funding. I used the funding I was granted to dive head first into my passion for cooking. I interned at a local farm called 9 Miles East located in Schuylerville, NY, nine miles east of Saratoga! 9 Miles East is a farm that specializes in creating a sustainable and healthy lifestyle in relationship to food for busy everyday people. The farm operates as a catering business, a home delivery service and a pizza delivery service.
For years I have wanted to experience the restaurant industry from different angles and this was my first real experience. At 9 Miles East I worked closely with their skilled chefs to expand my knowledge of food and culinary. Not only did my culinary skills improve greatly from my time on the farm, but I was taught about the food industry as a whole. I learned a lot about local farms and how sustainable food can help preserve the environment greatly. I also was shown the financial aspects of running a food business in particular, calculating food cost percentages when creating a new menu item or keeping an old one up to date. This experience was crucial to my future in the food industry and I hope other students can share the experience that I was so fortunate to have at 9 Miles East.
My first few weeks were a little difficult as I had to get used to the environment in a kitchen. If you have ever heard the saying “Every chef starts as a dishwasher” and thought you could avoid it, think again. I was fortunate enough to be under the title of “Intern” so I was able to escape slightly due to the fact that I was there to learn. What I did realize though is how much you learn from every role you serve in the kitchen and how each role affects everyone else. I ended up doing only dishes on my second day for 8 hours. It was a tough day but taught me a lot about perseverance, I wanted to be a chef, so this was where I had to start. After the second day I began to flow into a more regular role, which included a lot of prep and salad building. I still did dishes but not for whole days. I began to find myself always trying to clean up after myself as to not create a massive mess for whomever was doing dishes. It soon became clear why I had to do dishes for an entire day and I was thankful for that lesson.
As the summer has progressed, I have been given more responsibility and more freedom. I now come on on Thursdays from 2-4 and make the pizza dough for three days in advance. I cook large amounts of vegetables for different catering and home delivery projects and I make dressings for days with salad builds. While some of the work can get tedious, such as stickering and stamping 600 boxes for a salad build, I always feel like my work has a direct and significant impact on the company, and anytime I am curious about a new skill, the chefs are always interested in teaching me. This is me learning how to butcher chicken!
I am finishing my internship at the end of August and returning to school at Skidmore. I won’t be able to continue working on the farm because of the 20 minute commute. I am sad to have to stop working there but I will still get to hand out the farm’s CSA vegetable share to students on Friday afternoons. If you haven’t heard about the CSA, it is a really great opportunity for students in apartments and off campus houses to get farm fresh weekly produce. It is a 12 week program, beginning in September and running until Thanksgiving. If you have any questions email me at email@example.com or stop by the atrium on Friday from 2:30-5:00 to sign up. You should see me there with the farm manager, Drew! I will take the experiences I learned from the farm with me for my entire life and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity.
All the best,