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Interogation of a Student

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
These questions are for you, the culinary students.
Why do you want to become a chef?
Do you think you can handle the "real world" presure of learning under fire?
Does it make you feel really good about your self to know that "hay, I really like doing this" or is the other way around?
After being in school for a while do you feel that "man, what did I get my self into."
What influenced you to make up mind that you wanted to go to culinary school, was it the Food Network or someone you know?
These questions are to help you, not to scare
you.

Chef David ;)

[ March 14, 2001: Message edited by: Chef David Simpson ]
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post #2 of 27
I'm not in school yet, but I can answer based on what I've done so far...

Q: Why do you want to become a chef?

A: Love to feed people, really that simple. Looking forward to the challenge of running numbers (finances), menu design and working to get multiple personalities to work together. It's what I was made to do, just took me a while to figure it out.

Q: Do you think you can handle the "real world" presure of learning under fire?

A: I think so. I jumped on the line quickly after starting my staging at a few places. It's the only way to learn, sink or swim.

Q: Does it make you feel really good about your self to know that "hay, I really like doing this" or is the other way around?

A: I feel great after working a busy night. The rush and then the calm. I feel really good when I see one of my plates in the crowd and after the first bite they make that "This is soooo good" face. Looking forward to using the small amount of experience once I get into school.

Q: After being in school for a while do you feel that "man, what did I get my self into."

A: Not in school yet, but have had that feeling a couple times. I think it's normal. For me it's the fear of starting over at 31. On those sunday afternoons during football season I sat in the car before going in thinking "this is the schedule I may be lookin at for a long time." My friends are at home, bbqing, watching the game, etc. I've found it to get easier as time goes on.

Q: What influenced you to make up mind that you wanted to go to culinary school, was it the Food Network or someone you know?

A: For me it was just realizing what I wanted to do and what I didn't want to do. They kinda came at the same time. I finally realized sitting in a cube staring at a pc was not for me. At the same time I was looking into culinary school because I knew cooking was what I loved. While at Chico, my buddy and I put on a formal dinner for 20 people (along with other smaller dinners) and it always stuck with me that I was happiest when cooking. My buddy is too, but I haven't been able to talk him into joining me at J&W in the fall, yet.

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post #3 of 27
Nice job Logan,

Very well put

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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #4 of 27
thanks, I was set up by some great questions. Thanks for the thought provoking questions CDS.

logan

Fit Family Nutrition

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post #5 of 27
Thread Starter 
thank you, for you answers theloggg. Your on your way!

Chef David
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"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
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post #6 of 27
Wow, I just read this today. These are great questions! I consider myself a student even though I have not entered culinary school yet (possibly these questions are even more important now!)


>Why do you want to become a chef?
I like the idea of people coming to me and leaving satisfied and wanting to come back. To relieve their stress, fill their stomachs, and yet be challenged creatively and manually daily. Daily challenges also go along with daily gratification for a hard but satisfying job. That's what I like. I also want to become a chef because it is justifies the time I spend learning about and experimenting with food, and allows me to take my interest more seriously.

>Do you think you can handle the "real >world" presure of learning under fire?
Yes. I was a music major in college, and also an accompanist that had to play for auditions without ever practicing with the person auditioning or seeing the music prior to that moment. Learning in the culinary world AND the music world is really about finding patterns first and learning the new stuff second.

>Does it make you feel really good about >your self to know that "hay, I really like >doing this" or is the other way around?
>After being in school for a while do you >feel that "man, what did I get my self >into."
I don't believe I can answer this one yet. I still feel like hey, I really like this. I'll let you know when I start feeling the other one. I think there might be days I feel that way even though this is what I want to do. There are always days we need a break! Or maybe I won't- maybe I'll enjoy it so much... well, like I said, I'll let you know.

>What influenced you to make up mind that >you wanted to go to culinary school, was it >the Food Network or someone you know?
I always follow paths when doors open. Right now, cooking seems to be related to all of the doors that are opening to me. And I love to cook, I grew up baking and cooking, and never understood that other people didn't. I also completely want to open up a tea room or something that will be a haven for enjoyment and relaxation. What better way to provide joy than to cook?!? At first I was only thinking about it, but my experience with it has made me really want this direction.

Good questions!!!

~~Shimmer~~
"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea"
- Henry James
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"There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea"
- Henry James
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post #7 of 27
hmm, bring it on:

Q)Why do you want to become a chef?:

A) Well, i was working as a kitchenhand and i thought that, gees i can do that, plus a little instinctive ability, also a friend many years ago who was a chef said, "you can cook quite well, give it a go", so i did. Also a ex girlfriend said i could never make as a chef - so just to prove her wrong,,,,..

Q)Do you think you can handle the "real world" presure of learning under fire?

A) If you cant learn under "fire" then you have no place in this industry.

Q)Does it make you feel really good about your self to know that "hay, I really like doing this" or is the other way around?

A) I cant answer this question that honestly, because that, if you have the inherent talent or ability, it makes this a little complicated, given that you would know virtually straight off if something is going to work or not - it goes back to instinct.

Q) After being in school for a while do you feel that "man, what did I get my self into?

A) Never, because i gave myself the benefit of the doubt for at least a year and a half.

Q) What influenced you to make up mind that you wanted to go to culinary school, was it the Food Network or someone you know?

A) I would assume that it was combination of both. Given that in Australia that to qualify as a chef (on paper) is somewhat a feat that the drop out rate is something like 85%, the honest answer is that i did due to someone that i know.

I started off as a kitchenhand (UT person), from where i stood, i said to myself "i can do that, and from there, i can either add my own flair or do better" - no more and no less.

However, and from my own experience, learning in a academic & practical environment has expanded my own knowledge in excess from what any one chef could of ever shown me in such a relatively short period of time. Dont get me wrong, practical experience is essential, but without some of the background theory, what is it worth?
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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post #8 of 27
Thread Starter 
Man, I forgot about this one. Who's willing to spill thier guts!!!:chef:
"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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post #9 of 27

Thanks for bringing this back.

Actually, these are good questions for professionals to ask ourselves, too! Especially when we might be on the verge of burnout, or when looking for job. Very thought-provoking. Now, we just have to be able to be honest with our answers, and face up to the positives AND negatives.
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #10 of 27
I think one important way to look at any career choice is by comparing the up front picture of it, the beauty of it, the romantic side of it, with the side that many people never see. The technical, hard work, hard life aspect of the job.
There is a very popular book called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance which uses two different terms to describe various people. Romantics, those who love the overall picture of things without getting into the details too deeply, and the Classics who are more interested in the fine details, and the reasons why things work the way the do.
Often times one can destroy the other, and getting to my point, I think this is what happens with people in the industry on a regular basis. People become captivated with the artistic, creative, romance of creating food and seeing people enjoy something you have made. However, when someone begins to actually see what it takes (i.e.working long irregular hours, hard conditions, repetitive tasks) they get turned off to the idea. It is a common occurance in all aspects of life.

For me, I do not know whether I want to be a cook or not. I think that like most people who love working as a cook, it is a combination of both aspects that give us enjoyment. I will admit that I like watching TV network, but not as much as Great Chefs on the Discovery Channel. But regardless, just watching food being prepared and seeing both the small involved tasks and the finished product is enjoyable to me.
So whether I decide to go to Culinary institute (still contemplating) or not, I will still enjoy cooking.
post #11 of 27
I am also still in the "decision stage". My original career choice some 20 years ago was to go into the culinary arts.

My first real job while in high scholl was working in a kitchen of a nursing home doing mainly dishwashing but also some prep work for a "retired Navy Cook" on weekends and a Culinary School graduate during the week. Even at that time in my life, there was something that really impressed me about the Navy Cook. His whole philosophy about cooking was that no matter what he was cooking or for whom he was cooking, he was going to make it as delicious as he could. Given that many of the residents in the nursing home were on very resricted diets, this presented many challenges to him but he still made the effort almost daily to still go and visit some of the patients to make sure they were getting some enjoyment out of the meal he made. This contrasted greatly with the Culinary School graduate who may have been preparing a more technically correct meal but one that as a dishwasher I can always remember coming back more uneaten. I always liked working for the Navy cook more because he was there always trying to make someone's meal special.

Unfortunately, I was talked out of pursuing a career in cooking back then being convinced that "computers were the way to go".
Now 20 years later, after having a successful career creating software, I'm now looking at the culinary field again. For about 3 months now, I've been talking to folks both in and out of the field and all have been trying to convince me that working in the food business is a bad choice. The common reasons seems to be "why would you want to work so hard for so little money" and "working as a cook will ruin your family life".

All I can respond to all is if I can cook well enough to make people half as happy as Ed (the Navy Cook) did, then the happiness will make up for the money difference. I also know that cooking can interfere alot with family life but being married to an RN for 20 years has shown me that it is possible to work around work shift problems.

I'm still looking for the right path to get started but that's my reason for pursuing this career. I hope I actually get to go down that path soon.

As Robert Frost wrote "Two paths diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both...". Sometimes, you just need totake a "Do-over."

Wish me luck.
post #12 of 27
Chef david, i was responding on the grounds that i was a student, and still am. i think whether or not one is a student, it probably makes good sense to assess and review ones career at any given stage.

At the stage that i posted, i was partially through a second cookery course and was trade qualified only 1year and 1 month.

Your question is duly noted as one that applies to all chefs, because remembering the past both reassures that the right choices have been made and that mistakes made, if possible, should not be repeated.
"Nothing quite like the feeling of something newl"
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post #13 of 27
Thread Starter 
It's good to see people ingest these questions with such devotion and ablity. Also, to see that our trade is still a profession and not a "trend". It seems as though most people think of our profession and automaticlly think that they will be a cilebrity (not a good speller). The defination of a chef must reley on the fact that they WILL do the job in any aspect and repeat the same day after day. Suanne you are very right!!!!!!! I think it's most important to look back on our mistakes and realize our positions in this trade (NOT TREND) and see the real picture. We do a service, no more, NO LESS.
"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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post #14 of 27
Chef David, what a great thought-provoking thread! Brings everybody 'back on track'!

BTW, to all of you starting a 'second career', I started mine at age 49!!! So yes, all you 30 year olds can do it too!!!!
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post #15 of 27
As I read this there is an implied assumption that anyone that cooks is in a restaurant......some of us work with food but do not do the hard hours or heavy lifting. There are other options.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 27
some of theloggg's answers could mirror my own.......

While I am in the beginning of the process (or second beginning, actually), I am finding myself asking similar questions as those you posed, Chef Simpson.

About nine years ago I worked for a 'chain' restaurant in a mall. Have any of you heard of Sbarro's? Their food is actually pretty good and depending on the manager you get they train you really well. I had never actually worked as a full-fledged cook before but the manager hired me and trained me as a line cook.
*sigh* I loved it...and I miss it. The pace was...insane but fit my personality to a 't'. I was there for almost two years and then chose to move to a job cooking in a daycare center where I was in complete charge of the kitchen. Menus, ordering, prepping, cooking, cleaning...everything. :) Again I loved it but then my boss talked me into working in the classrooms with the kids when I was done cooking and that is how I ended up with a daycare of my own in my home........

I have been miserable....... :) but making the best of it. After being on this message board almost obsessivly in the past couple of weeks..... (whose signature tag says 'There is a fine line between mental illness and hobby' ?) ....I have realized that at the age of 36 I need to get back out there....sooooo, I am in the process of doing a job search, updating my resume and doing some job market research for a local job placement firm. I will complete these three things and then will go into see if they will help pay for my schooling. There is a fine college here in Fresno that, while not well known, is sincere in producing some fine cooks and potential chefs. That is where I would like to go..... and I am also looking for a job as kitchen helper/prep cook in a catering business.

Thank you all for the inspiration...and thank you for the questions.. and MARMALADY...thank you for your post about your age and carreer change~~ It was a real encouragment. :) :bounce:


~~Tamara~~

I tell people I'm not a wanna be......I'm a gonna be!!! :smiles:
"That which does not kill you makes you stronger."
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"That which does not kill you makes you stronger."
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post #17 of 27
Thread Starter 
Shroomgirl, your assumptions are valid but incorrect. These questions are for culinary students and culinary service profossionals (which means all fields of our trade) As you well know, I have worked in high and low end catering. this post was writen when I was working in catering. Now that I'm back in the restaurant scene I still look at all aspects of everything we as "professionals" do day after day.

:chef:
"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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post #18 of 27
I reread the questions you asked and restaurant was not mentioned...the responses seem to be geared to only that end....remember there were threads that talked about other options in the culinary field that did not involve working in a restaurant? Been a while. Good to see you back.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #19 of 27
Thread Starter 
I must admit I haven't been around for a while. I just faced a tradgity in my life of losing my house in a fire. But all is well. I'm sure everyone understands my dalima. I also must admit that I missed all of you "shroomgirl". Things are looking up and I'm fortunate to be alive. :)

:chef:
"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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post #20 of 27
OMG! So glad to hear your allright! So sorry this had to happen to you Chef...
post #21 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thank you Anneke for your concern. Not to worry. Insured and happy!!!! Seems you have a pretty good following for your self. I'm proud of you Anneke.:cool:


:chef:
"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
Reply
"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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post #22 of 27
Q. Why do you want to become a chef

Ive never actually thought about it. I think I always wanted to be a cook. I hung out in the kitchen alot like my 1yr old son now does. All my family cooks professionally with the exception of my grandmothers (they are horrible in the kitchen). We inherited it from my grandpa. I love the smell, taste, touch and sight of food. I love making my customers happy. One of our customers is 101 years old and I made him a dish that his mother used to make when he was a child. Let's say he was really pleased. My customers are the ones pushing me to get the credentials, Id rather stay in my little kitchen and personnaly cook for the customers that come in.

Q. Do you think you can handle the "real world" presure of learning under fire

Definately. Three kids, big house, blind husband and a job. Yeah I can work under fire alright.

Q. Does it make you feel really good about your self to know that "hay, I really like doing this" or is the other way around

This is the only thing I can do without feeling self consious. Cooking relaxes me even when it is hectic. I just end up in this zone where everything just seems to ...well...flow.

Q. After being in school for a while do you feel that "man, what did I get my self into

I haven't gone to a professional school yet....Im self taught:lips: I have reference books and other cooks to talk to and it's more like.."So that's why that does that".

Q. What influenced you to make up mind that you wanted to go to culinary school, was it the Food Network or someone you know

My customers...I keep telling them Im just a little cook and they keep telling me to get the credentials an do it professionally. (yeah yeah ...I work at the family diner) Im the only one there who actually loves to cook and the customers appreciate it when I leave the kitchen to ask them how was the meal. I also take requests for the next time they come in. I make childhood favorites using their family recipes. Sometimes they end up on or menu permanently.
Jodi


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Jodi


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post #23 of 27
Thread Starter 
I see that alot of you view this thread but do not respond.
"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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"Every kiss is a blessing"! Or is it "Every blessing is a kiss"
Does anyone know what time it is.
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post #24 of 27
Chef,
I'm one of those who keeps veiwing this thread, then staying mum. Here goes.

Why do I want to become a chef?

People in the priesthood talk about being "called to serve." That's why I want to be a chef. Cooking is a transcendental operation for some people, and I'm one of those. Cooking is like a drug, which is just a cheaper form of mysticism, anyway. It hurts, sometimes. But other times there's the buzz... the buzz of doing a reccord number of covers, of working harder than most people can conceive of, of seeing someone who is normally racing around with blinders on take an extra moment, roll your product around their mouth, and smile. The buzz of knowing that you made so much more than a great plate of food... you made that moment, a moment which, at its best, can be estatic.

Can I handle the "real world" pressure of working under fire?

Yes.

Does it make you feel really good about your self to know that "hey, I really like doing this" or is the other way around?

I'm not sure I understand this question. Nonetheless, it is trite but true that when one does what one loves, one never does another day of work.

Do I ever feel like: "man, what did I get myself into?"

I'm not in school yet, but yes, I feel that way. More often than not this board makes me feel that way. I recently picked up a copy of Escoffier's cookbook, and boy did I feel that way. It's a feeling of being in over one's head. I did not know that there was so much to know about food. So many ways of thinking about, let alone dealing with, food. Then again, therein lies the potential. Can I measure up? Yes. Will I measure up? I don't know, but I've got to go see. It's scary. It's very scary. But the same thing that makes it scary is also what makes it new and exciting, and which means it never has to be anything but new and exciting.

What influenced me?

FoodTV. There, I said it. I grew up on white bread and instant mac and cheese (I don't suppose I should publically defame the brand names, but y'all'll know what I'm talking about). FoodTV was an important step, I think, for me to realize not only the potential of food, but also that my passion for food was not as alien as I thought it might be. This board has been another of those steps ... there's life beyond FoodTV.

Of course, there's also been people close to me who suggested the possiblity. I always dismissed it, though. Cooking wasn't, to my mind, something bright, responsible people devoted their lives to. Obviously, that's not true. I mean, here all y'all are. And so I'm going.

Sincere if purple,
P
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post #25 of 27
For some of us in the biz, we came up being around food all of the time.

My Grandfather was a baker from Germany, Some of my earliest memories are of my mom picking me up from school and taking me back to the bakery he owned. I was allowed to get something sweet to eat and a soda from the walkin when I got there.

As for school. I am doing it bakwards.

I have 15 years of restsurant experience (cooking for 10 of those)
and now I am ready to take the next step into the "fine" dinning section of the biz.

One thing that really scares me is not knowing as much as I think I know.

What do I mean by that. I work in a casual Family type restaurant where almost everything is fried or grilled. I do some specials that are braised, sauted etc.. but I wonder if I really know as much about food as I think I do(you will never know it all, thats another reason I love this buisness.)

I read plenty of books, know the terms, know how and why things happen in the kitchen, but not being able to make stock on a daily basis (and I believe I make good stocks, when I actually do make some for a special) I don't know how good my stocks are.


Yes the fear of the unknown scares the **** out of me, but I have to find out. It is just one of those things in life that you don't want to look at 20 years down the road and kick youself for not trying.


Billy
post #26 of 27
Well said, Billy.
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post #27 of 27
>These questions are for you, the culinary students.

Well, I'm more of a pre-student at the moment, but working on it.

>Why do you want to become a chef?

I'm not sure I do want to become a chef. What I want to do is do something meaningful. I've been working in high tech for 19 years, now I can't find any work because I'm suddenly "obsolete" (I'm a year out of date, go figure). So I need something different.

To me, food has always been a religion. Good food feeds the soul, not just the body. I also enjoy making people happy. Good food almost invariably makes people happy. I would like to be able to do this for others. If I'm going to do it, I intend to learn how to do it right, and learn how to do it well. Education will help put the experience I get into perspective. And vice versa.


>Do you think you can handle the "real world" presure of learning >under fire?

I'm not great in confrontational environments. However, I have confidence that this too can be learned. That or I'll just let the storm break over me, take a deep breath and keep going. If I'm working for someone else the worst they can do is fire me. Big deal.

>Does it make you feel really good about your self to know >that "hay, I really like doing this" or is the other way around?

We'll see if I'm any good. Then I'll let you know.

>After being in school for a while do you feel that "man, what did >I get my self into."

I'm already thinking that and I haven't started yet.

>What influenced you to make up mind that you wanted to go to >culinary school, was it the Food Network or someone you know?

Knowing myself. Yes, I know a few cooks (as one does when one insists on speaking to them when the food is particularly good)


>These questions are to help you, not to scare you.

No worries, I'm already scared.
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