Pierpont Culinary students help out on Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown"

Pierpont Culinary students help out on Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown"

Pierpont Culinary students help out on Anthony Bourdain's "Parts Unknown"
 
FAIRMONT — When Kayleb Band began his studies at Pierpont Culinary Academy, he read a book written by national chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain.
 
Unbeknownst to Band, less than two years later, he’d would cook a meal for the celebrity.
 
Band was one of the few lucky Pierpont students to get the opportunity to help produce a farm-to-table meal for Bourdain and his crew last September for Bourdain’s popular television program “Parts Unknown,” which aired last weekend on CNN. The exact nature of the trip was held from the group until their arrival at Lost Creek Farms.
 
“When we realized who it was and what was going on, I think we were all very pleasantly surprised,” Band said. “Whenever I first got into culinary arts, my uncle, who’s a chef, actually told me to read one of Anthony Bourdain’s books. Just to be able to come full circle from reading one of his books early in my career to going on to cook for him was awesome.”
 
While the students themselves didn’t appear on the show, their food was heavily showcased, something for which Band was deeply grateful.
 
“It’s a big deal, in a way,” Band said. “It just goes to show that in life, it’s part being in the right place at the right time and being good at what you do. You’ll be able to do really cool things like be on national television. I’m very fortunate to be able to have that opportunity.”
 
Pierpont Culinary coordinator and chef Jay Mahoney has helped Lost Creek Farm owners Mike Costello and Amy Dawson with their events in the past, and he couldn’t pass up the chance to surprise his students with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity when Costello approached him about “Parts Unknown.”
 
“I made the mistake of telling (the students) that it’s going to be a really good surprise and someone really interesting would be there,” Mahoney said. “They kind of figured it out, maybe, but not really. When we got there and they saw what it was, they were like ‘Oh my gosh, this is crazy.’”
 
Arriving at the farm in the morning, Mahoney, Band and the rest of the students worked hard on making classic West Virginia cuisine like venison, rabbit, paw-paw ice cream and vinegar pie.
 
“We spent 11 or 12 hours that day cooking, and the camera crew was there for just about every bit of that,” Mahoney said. “Everybody was very anxious and excited about it, and then Bourdain came in at about 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon. They served the meal and that was it. We helped wherever help was needed.”
 
While the dinner was certainly the most high-profile event the group has worked on, it certainly wasn’t the first and won’t be the last. Mahoney explained why he tries to get his students as much in-field experience as possible.
 
“We place a lot of emphasis on getting our students involved while their in school with as many events as possible,” Mahoney said. “We want to introduce them to people in the community for networking…
 
“We treated it just like anything else. Anything we think is a good opportunity for them to get out and learn, we do it. It’s really hard for students to get started in this industry. Good paying jobs are hard to come by, and sometimes a diploma alone won’t do it.”
 
Band, who graduates this week, said cooking for Bourdain is something he’ll never forget, and the experience goes to show the true power of a good meal.
 
“It’s been a pleasure and a joy to be a behind-the-scenes person and get to cook for somebody and get to meet them,” Band said. “At the end of the day, everyone, celebrity or not, likes to eat, and food is what brings us together.”
 
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