From Ramen Soup to Greatness!

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When I was about to graduate High School, an aunt impressed upon me the the wisdom of her experience and wealth. "An engineering degree is fine, as long as you go into sales. That, young man, is where the money is at."

Some years later, a made a good friend who was an area sales manager for a major Pharmaceutical company. You might surmise that as I'm referring to a friend in sales, and not myself, that I did not follow my aunt's advice. That's rather astute of you.

My friend and his employees were rewarded regularly with some rather extravagant trips for their sales successes. New York City, the Caribbean, Paris, Banff Springs... Oh, and bring your spouse, of course! There seemed a certain unfairness about it, given my own repeated travels within the less sophisticated haunts of rural Georgia and a slightly bitter awareness of the ultimate costs of healthcare on my family budget at the time... not that it's any better now.

So, certainly there was a measure of jealousy. It's hard to look at others your age and not draw comparisons in all sorts of measures. It's our nature. But, I was happy for my friend, and I understood then, as I do now, that people who work bringing income to an organization generally are rewarded more than those who fall into the expense category, no matter how valuable their roles.

Today, my comparatively conservative company (from an expense standpoint) is faring quite well against his. I don't take pleasure in that, but in the great scheme of this economy, prudent spending habits before the current recession certainly lead to better positioning for business viability.

Last week I was in Orlando, FL for a business meeting, and it's not uncommon for there to be a group activity at this sort of thing, most commonly dinner at an area restaurant. On occasions, there may be bowling, Dave and Buster's games, WhirlyBall, billiards, or something similar involved. Within the tourist Mecca that is Orlando, there was obviously no shortage of tourist attractions that might be considered.

Our "evening out" was...atypical. What do we have here?

S/W Ver: 96.B0.0AR

Truffles and Trifles. Unassuming, it is, but after 22 years, at last I ventured where "too many pharmaceutical companies to list" have come before me. This is a cooking school, named one of the top 5 in the country by the Food Network. It's where we cooked our dinner.

S/W Ver: 96.B0.0AR

This is what it looked like as we arrived. A separate kitchen and a sales area are not visible here. Around the walls are numerous cooking stations, where each participant was assigned a spot to cook "something" for which the instructions (huh?) and ingredients were already provided (and pre-measured.)

I would like to have included a picture of the wreck left in our wake, but the staff was as adept at cleaning as they were at looking over our shoulders and shaking their heads.

Menu, you ask? Brie Almond Canape, Baked Brie with lemon and herbs, Cranberry-Ginger Chutney, Shrimp Croquettes with spicy mayonnaise, Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar, Pork with Caramalized Pears and Brandy Cream Sauce, French Chicken Stew with Biscuits, Fabulous Potatoes (appropriately named), Party Rolls, Bread Pudding with Brandy Sauce, Chocolate Cheesecake with Balsamic Strawberries, and French Vanilla Paste Ice Cream. With choice of tea, beer, or wine. Ah the good life!

*pats stomach*

This might be considered a team building exercise to some, but it was as social a "dinner" as one is likely to find, with literally 50 cooks in the kitchen. Add to that the very engaging presence of the owner (who years ago swayed the votes of Congressmen with her cooking), and it was an outing not to be forgotten.

If only there had been some digestive pills...

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