A Day in the Life: Carla Williams of the Escoffier School of Culinary Arts
Energetic Carla Williams wears many hats. She’s the director of career services and the farm-to-table coordinator at the Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Austin. She is also the founder and curator of Phoodoes, a Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feed for lovers of food photos (photos + food = Phoodoes). A food industry veteran, Williams has had quite the career as a chef before moving to an advisor role, and now she judges for events like Uchi’s 86’d competition. Here’s what her typical day looks like.
6 AM I'm up and walking my dog, Porter. My first cup of coffee is mandatory, and I have the news on while I get ready for the day.
7:30 – 8 AM I head to work, picking up a latte from the Royal Blue Grocery on Congress on the way.
8 – 11 AM Once in the office, I turn on Pandora: The Head and the Heart station today. Then I check Facebook, Phoodoes page first. I post about National Hot Dog Day, share my favorite hot dog restaurant and request Phoodoes of hot dogs. A quick glance at the Escoffier school FB page, and I catch up on activities at both campuses and to share a link for an upcoming food event our students and followers in the Austin area might be interested in.
Now on to my emails. Today I have one from a sous chef who has a job opportunity, which I post on the student portal. Next is one from an FTT partner who wants to confirm her upcoming schedule of students. Our culinary students work on local farms and ranches for three weeks of their curriculum. This allows them the opportunity to learn and respect where their ingredients come from, as well as build great bonds with local farmers. Our FTT partners get to teach them the how and why of their operations while inspiring and building bonds with future chefs.
I also help newly enrolled as well as graduating students, plus students doing externships. I catch up with my coworkers and walk through the kitchens and classrooms, avoiding going near the pastry class making croissants: my weakness!
11:00 AM – 12 PM I head home for a quick lunch and to take Porter out. Lunch is usually leftovers from the previous night’s restaurant, since I eat out for almost every meal. Today it’s leftover pizza from Bufalina, which just opened in East Austin.
12 PM – 2 PM Now I’m headed to Coyote Creek Farm where FTT students are learning about the "world's best eggs." Our students typically rotate through three to five different locations throughout their FTT class. At many locations, the farmers and ranchers teach the class themselves (at Coyote Creek, GM Cameron Molberg teaches), while others have full-time staff who work with our students. A chef instructor is also available and makes stops to the different locations.
I take advantage of this chance to take a few pictures and then get in with the chickens, since a couple of students are afraid. I reach in to pick one of the hens up so they can collect her eggs.
2 – 4 PM I’m back in the office, and one of the pastry classes has proudly brought their beautiful napoleons for the office staff. I immediately Instagram them for Phoodoes and post on Phoodoes FB page. I then meet with a student, where we discuss thoughts and ideas about working outside of Austin when she graduates.
4 – 5 PM I meet with the graduation planning committee to discuss our commencement ceremony next month. I have just confirmed that chef David Bull of Congress will be our guest speaker, and Michel Escoffier's travel plans from Nice, France, are confirmed for our open house as well as the graduation ceremony.
5 – 6 PM I present to a brand new afternoon culinary class about how to write a resume and basic job search and interview tips.
6 – 7 PM Walk and feed Porter, and he’s in the mood for some catch.
7 – 9 PM I head out to meet some friends for dinner at brand-new restaurant Barlata on South Lamar. I see another chef (I love that the entire restaurant industry in Austin supports one another) who says hello on his way out and casually mentions he's looking for a couple of prep cooks. I make myself a note to add this to the job post portal tomorrow, then enjoy dinner...taking Phoodoes, of course.
9 – 10:30 PM I'm coerced to grab a night cap at Bar Congress before walking home. I order my favorite, the Green River, a force-carbonated drink with vodka, basil, grapefruit peel, lime and green chartreuse.
10:30 PM – 12 AM Once home, I create an Instagram collage of the pictures I’ve just taken and upload to Phoodoes, giving compliments to the chef and team. A new Project Runway awaits on my TiVo, and Porter's excited to curl up and watch it with me.