Jennifer is a senior at Shawnee Mission East. She enjoys country music, cowboy boots and cowboys. Mainly the last one. She is also a vital member of the Broadcasting Dream Team. Read Full »
The fresh foods, the “chef language,” the opportunity––all reasons senior Ian Exline has decided to attend culinary school in the fall. After being a part of the culinary arts program at Broadmoor Technical Center for the past two years, Ian has set his heart on becoming a professional chef.
Being a chef was not always a part of Ian’s plans. According to him, in the past two years it just “fell into place.” He was bored with cooking mundane and uninteresting foods, and wanted something else to do. Most of Ian’s family has gone to the University of Kansas or Kansas State University, but he was determined to break the mold. He didn’t have the plans up until last September: all he knew was that he didn’t want to be here.
“I wanted to be as far away from Kansas City as possible,” Ian said. “I like the town––it just isn’t my town.”
After a conversation with his instructor Tobias Dotson at Broadmoor, Ian decided to become a professional chef. Ian will be attending The Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California. It is located in the Napa Valley region; the building itself is an old winery that was converted into a school. Exline sees this as a complete change from school in Kansas City. For Ian, going to California is an exciting experience, but his mom Kathi Exline has a different idea––her terms were that there had to be someone who lived near her son, even if it couldn’t be her.
“My prerequisite was that there had to be a family member nearby in case of an emergency,” Kathi said. “He has a cousin in Orange County, so it’s only a two or three-hour drive.”
In the past few years, Ian has started to try tasting different foods, such as sea urchin and fried fish tails, and through it all he has found a love for Asian-style cuisine. The open-air-markets with fresh foods, such as fish that was caught and sold in the same day, all drew Ian in. The freshness of the food combined with the appreciation that Asian culture has for food has made him fall in love.
“These people are eating fruits and vegetables that no one has ever seen before,” Ian said. “They are eating plants that you would look at and walk away from because they look so weird, but to them it’s a delicacy.”
Ian has had his fair share of injuries in the kitchen, ranging from slicing off the very tip of his finger to burning his arm on an oven door. While cutting vegatables, the knife slipped and sliced off a good portion of the top of one of his fingers. He wrapped it in duct tape, put on a glove and finished the evening rush.
Ian has found what he wants to do with his life, and his father, Brock Exline, supports him for that. According to Brock, Ian has chosen a career path that will make him happy.
“I’m proud of him, and I’m proud of what he’s doing,” Brock said. “I just want him to have fulfillment.”
As for Ian’s future, he doesn’t know what exactly that will entail. One day he hopes to own his own restaurant, and be his own boss, but knows that it won’t happen right out of college.
“You go into it and you’re going to lose a lot of money,” Ian said, “but you do it because you love it.”