Potato-leek soup, served cold

I can never get my shit together enough to capitalize on all my “I remember whens . . .” so I’ll throw this out for free: When I read the CIA was shutting down the Escoffier room, I was transported in reverse nearly 30 years, way back to when I decided to give up a lucrative career as an editor at the hometown paper and train as a chef. My consort insisted we check out the Harvard of cooking schools before I wisely followed my gut right into the New York Restaurant School, so we rented a car, drove to Poughkeepsie, toured the anxious campus and ate dinner in the swankiest of student-staffed restaurants. And jeebus, was it both halt and lame. The sauces were stodgy, the cooking clumsy, the service amateurish to the point of parody. By contrast, back in the spring of 1983, my about-to-be alma mater on 34th Street was turning out gracefully light food that reflected how cuisine was melding French style with American omnivorism. Rather than dropping 20 or 30 thousand grand while taking myself out of the work force for two years, I borrowed 5 grand for 18 weeks at the Evelyn Wood School of Cooking. And never regretted it. Not least because I’m now working on a piece interviewing CIA grads and hearing they got their best education after they left that whole world of the ER behind. No joke.