COLLEGE ESSAY: Isabelle McAlevey to attend Washington and Lee University

Avery Maier

Every year, the Scroll publishes a series of college essays written by the graduating seniors. This is the college essay of Isabelle McAlevey, who will be attending Washington and Lee University this fall.

The crack of an eggshell against the counter, the whir of the fan above the stove, the hum of the mix-master, the chime of the oven timer going off make up the harmony that is my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon. To some, my parents included, this clattering and banging may come off as a disenchanting cacophony of messes being made, and countless objects in use, but to me it is a sweet synchronization of sounds and smells that makes up one of my favorite pastimes: cooking.

I am the quintessential amateur chef; speckled with flour, smelling of vanilla extract, one hand awkwardly deep inside a chicken, the other sampling a savory sauce. To me this is perfect, I am not thinking of the clean up work ahead of me, or the homework I should really get to doing; instead I am a mad scientist, a chef, a baker, a critic, a philosopher, an artist, all rolled (like a delectable cinnamon roll) into one. My strategy is simple, and consists of three key elements: Have fun. Be careful with hot and/or sharp objects. Eat.

To say that I am as enthusiastic about eating as cooking would be an understatement, but in some ways I find that cooking the ridiculous amount of butter infused dishes and treats I indulge in somehow ameliorates the inevitable guilt and painful fullness that ensues. Some find themselves on a sports field, in the classroom, on the debate team; I, on the other hand find myself (sometimes quite literally) elbow deep in some meatball mix or red velvet batter. It is a constant battle: me against the perils of the kitchen. The searing hot water of the sink, the over- chilled stick of butter, the suffocating plumes of flour, the chocolate chip spills and the stray and wily fragment of eggshell enveloped in chicken embryo and stuck at the bottom of the bowl. These little calamities were once the bane of my cooking career, but as they say: keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. I now keep good company with these little messes, they are inevitable and help to keep me focused on the path to perfection!

If you can’t stand the heat, then get out of the kitchen. That is a line someone will probably never use on me in the literal sense. When I get in my zone, I am a whiz with a whisk, a master with a mallet (I really won’t cut that chicken a break when it comes to being tender), and whereas some may follow the cookbook word for word, my recipe for success is a much more self-guided luxury tour through the wonders of cooking and most definitely enjoying one’s own unique creations. I may never be an Iron Chef, but a chef with an ironclad will to succeed: most certainly. I can stand the heat; I like it, maybe even live for my weekly (at the very least) cooking extravaganza. A cookbook? Blasphemy! A snickerdoodle? Child’s play! A Turducken? Weird, but working on it! A little bit crazed? Definitely! To me, this time is essential; I get to be creative, innovative, productive, and occasionally sensational!