College of Charleston junior Lauren Furey has been cooking for so long that she can’t even remember when she started.
“My mom gave me the freedom to go to the grocery store and pick out whatever I wanted to make dinner for the family,” recalls Furey.
If she had to take a guess, the budding food aficionado would say she began experimenting in the kitchen when she was around 10 years old.
At 15, she hopped into Philadelphia restaurant 333 Belrose as an intern to learn how a professional kitchen worked. She learned how to prep and plate for service, converse with customers, and how to respect ingredients.
“I learned so much from chef Carlo deMarco, and we still talk to this day,” she says.
When thinking about colleges, the aspiring chef didn’t want to only focus on the culinary arts.
She spends her summers interning in kitchens. This past season, Furey was behind the line at Poogan’s Smokehouse to learn more about Southern fare and barbecue. Furey also finds relevant courses outside of her major, like professor Tim Carmichael’s course World History through Spices.
After hearing Charleston chef Bob Waggoner speak at CofC’s Club for Hospitality and Tourism, she wrote him a thank you note, and he invited her to assist him in the kitchen the next day. “Thank you notes are key to maintaining relationships and showing people you care about them,” says Furey. “You won’t have opportunities if you don’t go out and seek them,” she adds while explaining the importance of shadowing top figures in the field.
A passion for culinary arts lead Furey to start her personal chef business named Now We’re Cookin’! where she can create menus for private events, drop off everyday meals or host inspiring cooking lessons. Recently, Furey has been demonstrating her skills at the King Street Williams Sonoma with pop-up classes.
And Furey has used that entrepreneurial spirit to secure scholarships from Charleston’s female-only culinary club Les Dames d’Escoffier. Les Dames chairperson Susan Wigley says that they were so impressed with Furey’s commitment to pursuing the culinary arts that they awarded her funding for her CofC tuition two years in a row. Les Dames is also where Furey met culinary trailblazer Nathalie DuPree, for whom she has now been entrusted to throw a holiday party for the chef’s best friends.
“When you’re cooking, you can be super adventurous, because what’s the worse that can happen?” says Furey. “I love how it’s always a bit unexpected. It doesn’t need to be the same every time.”
If you want to see Furey in action, this Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, at 6:30 p.m. she will teach a course on Thanksgiving cooking. She’ll make turkey meatballs with gravy, mashed potatoes and celery root with Taleggio cheese, and a carrot pie with a pecan crust. It is free to attend.