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Out of the Operating Room, into the Kitchen

In front of the stove at Roy's Baltimore: Sandra Saw indulges her passion.

Late this spring, one more group of Johns Hopkins residents will complete specialty training and fan out to faculty appointments and private practices all over the country. Heading for Manhattan will be Sandra Saw, a newly turned out anesthesiologist. Saw's not planning on spending time in an operating room any time soon, though. She's enrolling as a full-time student at the French Culinary Institute (FCI).

Make no mistake: Sandra Saw has no intention of abandoning medicine. The time simply is right to take her longtime avocation to a higher level. And so for six intense months, Saw will be working under luminary chefs like Alain Sailhac (Le Cirque), Andre Soltner (Lutece) and television personality Jacques Pepin, earning what's known as a "grand diploma" from one of America's most prestigious cooking schools. Says Saw: "I'm unattached, my residency will be finished, and now is the time."

FCI admissions representatives were dumbfounded when Saw arrived for her interview. True, some of the school's well-known alums had forsaken pre-law or banking careers, but a Hopkins-trained M.D.? The youngest of four daughters of a cardiothoracic surgeon and an accomplished Chinese cook, Saw grew up in a two-kitchen home on the West Coast where cooking was the linchpin of family life. But even though she's a cooking veteran, to get up to FCI standards, Saw is following the school's suggestion and working at a local restaurant.

Once a week on post-call evenings this year, she can be found cooking on the line at Roy's Baltimore, part of a 28-restaurant chain based in Hawaii and specializing in Pacific Rim cuisine, her favorite. Saw also turns out dinners for her fellow residents in the small, well-stocked kitchen in her Baltimore apartment. Cooking, she says, is never a chore. "Few things in life are better than sitting down with loved ones and seeing them enjoy a wonderful meal."

-Anne Bennett Swingle



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