I believe a smack across my hand with a ruler may be in order! I’ve been penning this blog for two years and although I’ve mentioned his name before, I have never once told you how much this man means to me:
Wait a minute… that picture is FAR too prim and proper to be Chef Jeff Igel…. HERE’S what my mentor REALLY looks like:
Or perhaps he’ll approve of THIS pic.
He’s in his second favorite environment. All that’s missing are a bag of his beloved Cheetos and an ice cold brew!
Why do I adore Chef Jeff (or CJ, as he’s permitted some of us to call him)? Without turning this post into a mushy affection fest, let me count the ways.
First, there’s CJ the family man. I find it incredibly inspirational that he makes room in his ϋber busy schedule to attend his son Jake’s athletic events, spend time with his daughter Cassie (who also attends FVTC), and to take his wife Paula out on a date night. As he’s said many times to his students, a successful life is about making a perfect balance of work, family, and personal time. CJ seems to be talking the talk AND walking the walk very well.
As if his ethics and moral character aren’t enough, he’s got an overall snappy happy Monday morning attitude, too. Aye carumba! I don’t know what kind of happy pills are being thrown into his Wheaties in the morning, but the man has a spring in his step and a smile on his face regardless of the nasty a** attitude that his cost controls students bring into the classroom with them on Monday mornings. He always seems to find a way to make his enthusiasm infectious. When the class starts at 8:30, we’re all grumping and bitching, but by 11:30, we’ve laughed, learned, and left MUCH better people than when we walked in the door.
I love (yes, I’m going to use that big “L” word, because “I have a fond affinity for him”, just doesn’t cut the mustard) Chef Jeff for his insatiable appetite for bringing out the very best in his students, and his talent for possessing the perfect timing to help us become better people. I’ve experienced it first hand, and I’ve also seen him do it with even the most unmotivated and stubborn of his students. He’s got a gift and he’s using it well! There have been times during this educational experience when I’ve felt defeated and was sure that I’d never make it through the semester, but Chef always knew what to say or do to keep me encouraged and pushing forward. Like last year, when he showed an incredibly inspirational video to us in his ethics and professionalism class. He gave me a heartfelt challenge to ponder what I wanted from my life and to continue chasing my dreams….so I did! Besides that, he’s constantly making me laugh. Like the time I helped him with some administrative phone calls for the FVTC Cultural Cuisine event and he nicknamed me his “call girl”.
It’s been said that success in life is rarely achieved without first having a passion and willingness to work at making it happen. While I believe that to be true, I also believe that an equally important step in the process is to find someone who encourages us and nurtures the seeds of self-confidence and enthusiasm that are surely needed along that long and winding road to the finish line!
Over the past two years, Chef Jeff has been an incredible source of knowledge, inspiration, and motivation to me. He’s been my cheerleader when I needed one the most. He’s helped me to dust the cobwebs from my brain, weed out my self-doubt, and begin to grow a beautiful garden of knowledge in my brain and happiness into my soul.
He is definitely one of a kind, and I will forever be grateful to him for what he’s done to help me along this amazing journey.
CJ, I am now and will forever be grateful to God for bringing you into my life just when I needed you the most…
In celebration of all things Chef Jeff, I think it only fitting that I share with you one of his grilling rub recipes. This rub brings the perfect flavor to a piece of brisket or flank steak and it’s the perfect treat to chow down on while watching your favorite ball game!
Chef Jeff’s Big Money Rub
Paprika Spanish ½ Cup
Brown Sugar, light ½ Cup
Salt, Kosher ½ Cup
Chili Powder, light ¼ Cup
Black Pepper, coarse ground ¼ Cup
Garlic, granulated or powder 2 Tablespoons
Onion, granulated or powder 2 Tablespoons