Teen Chef: Decatur High School student creates captivating cuisine

 

  Some create art with clay or a paint brush. Aidan Forgey prefers a more edible medium.

The 17-year-old Decatur High School (DHS) junior is in his third year in the school’s culinary arts program, and he’s just now hitting his stride in the kitchen.

“It really just happened this year that I realized I was above average at (cooking),” Forgey said. “I’ve always really liked it and I was good at the bookwork in freshman and sophomore year, but we didn’t really do a lot of cooking. It was just really making sure you didn’t get people sick when you cook.”

With the safety basics down, now he can focus on the artistry.

Forgey has just begun working on food presentation in class, but he’s been decorating plates in downtown Decatur for three months while shadowing the sous chef at Revival—a family-style restaurant focusing on Southern cuisine.

Revival is owned by Kevin Gillespie, who was featured in the sixth season of the reality television series Top Chef in 2009, where he finished as a runner-up.

The DHS culinary program has a relationship with Revival, and Forgey was given his opportunity after surviving his first night in early September.

“It was a lot,” Forgey said of his first night at Revival, where the staff put him to work with a trainer and allowed him to prove himself.

After a few months, Forgey now says he’s coming into his own in the Revival kitchen.

“It helps once you’ve been there for a while and you kinda have your own system to keep track of everything.”

Of all the dishes he’s prepared at Revival, Forgey said his favorite is a delicata squash salad.

“I don’t like the taste of the squash that much, but other people do,” Forgey said. “But just making it look really nice…making it however you want.

There’s a set amount of stuff you have to put on but not any set way you have to put it on, so you can just express yourself.”

Fortunately for Forgey, his position at Revival allows him to express himself quite often.

“If we’re really busy, I’ll have a lot of stuff prepped and I’ll be trying to go quicker, but if we only have a couple orders the whole night, I’ll take extra time [with the presentation,]” he said.

Beyond his style on the plate, Forgey also has developed his own way of handling himself in the kitchen.

“I’m very loud,” he said. “I make desserts also, and we have to call for the front-of-house to come pick up the desserts, so I yell a lot.”

His extroverted nature at Revival goes against his normal demeanor, but Forgey said it comes naturally when he’s at his station.

“I’m sort of shy in any new environment, but I opened up really quickly there,” he said. “I can tell [the kitchen] is gonna be somewhere I spend a lot of time. That’s where I feel like I’m meant to be.”

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