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'The Freshman Class: Santa Cruz' reveals 'Matt’s Illness'

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On tonight’s Cooking Channel season premiere episode of "The Freshman Class: Santa Cruz," viewers were introduced to the four key members of the class of the Cabrillo College Culinary Arts and Hospitality program.

As the class begins, Jim is down at the beach cooking a pot of gumbo for his homeless friends. His friends asked how he was doing in culinary school, but he is conflicted. He feels that he will never get along with Chef Slater, and plans to speak with the director, who he hopes will intercede for him. If he can get nowhere on that route, he will have no choice but to quit school.

As Amalia comes into class, she relates how the first three weeks have been an adjustment for her. Her heavy load of seven classes is a tough change for her, as most of her colleagues only take three or four. She attends catering lab and catering lecture, wine class, baking class, introduction to culinary arts lecture, restaurant lecture and restaurant lab. Amalia tells fellow new student, Matheus that tomorrow is her daughter’s first high school dance. She will miss doing the annoying mother thing, by taking pictures of this memorable event. She is feeling so disconnected because of the long hours away from her family. Amalia’s mother took her children to lunch at the restaurant, so they could see what she does when they are away from her, but she only had a few moments with them before she had to return to the kitchen.

As Chef Carter dismissed the class, he thanked them for the good job they have done so far. Matheus was born in Brazil, but grew up in Fresno. He loves to cook and feels at peace in the kitchen. As he reports to work at Johnny’s Harborside, the restaurant where he works while attending school. His dream is to be a private chef for people with cancer and serious illnesses, but he had undergone some serious health issues about a year ago. His ankles felt like they were shattered, his fingertips were turning blue and his gums were bleeding. Fortunately, he found Dr. Sharon Chung, who diagnosed him with Wegener's Granulomatosis, an auto-immune disease. After a round of chemotherapy, he has been in remission for three months. Dr. Chung explained to him that his disease can return at a rate of 50% in the first year and 75% in the second year. Stress can also help the illness to return. He wants to become a holistic chef, but does not want to push his body to its breaking point.

Jim went to meet with Chef Carter to discuss his personality clash with Chef Slater. Unfortunately, there was nothing he could do, as the catering class was a requirement and she was the only instructor. As the class proceeds, Chef Slater tells the class they have a busy day ahead tomorrow. An event of 200 people is scheduled called the Harvest Wine Gala. With three courses; appetizers, and a lot of wine. They will be starting their prep today. Gabriel, Matt and Kim will be making the quiche and cutting up the vegetables. Amalia will be making the goat cheese tart and it will require a lot of dough. Matt’s gums started bleeding, which was the same start he had when the illness was discovered. When they finished for the day, they were told to be there at 12:30 and expect to finish at 11 p.m. Matt is horrified that the twelve hour day will add to his symptoms. The chemotherapy has just about killed his immune system and by pushing his body too hard, he can cause another flare up.

Amalia has to rely on Gabi, her oldest daughter again, as the weekend event is another long one. Now she is having feelings of guilt, like never before.

After a fifteen hour day, the crew, especially Matt was exhausted, his middle finger went numb a few times hindering his progress cutting the lamb chops. When he woke up, he hurt all over and was throwing up. He called out from work at the restaurant and fears the worst.

Amalia got her evaluation from Chef Slater, it was 100, and she was overjoyed, but still could not control the guilt she was feeling. When Matt returned, he received a 95. He was only sick for a few days after the gala, and is praying that he is over the hump.

At Jim’s friend’s house, he stated that he is leaving Cabrillo. He has a job as a catering manager, and cannot bypass Chef Slater, so the decision has been made for him.

What will face "The Freshman Class: Santa Cruz" in future episodes? Stay tuned and if you liked what you read, please Subscribe, and you will never miss another post from this Examiner. Thanks!

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