For most of our students, a love for the culinary arts begins in childhood kitchens cooking with family and friends. For Pedro Gandara, a student in the culinary arts program at the Boulder campus, his Hispanic upbringing meant constantly being behind-the-scenes in the kitchen. Wanting a deeper knowledge of cuisine, Gandara enrolled in Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts and began his educational journey. After scoring a line cook position at Denver’s Ritz Carlton hotel at a campus job fair, he is more confident than ever that he’s chosen the right path.
Gandara took some time to speak with us about balancing class and work, his advice for others pursuing a culinary education and why he chose Escoffier.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts: Why did you want to go to culinary school?
Pedro Gandara: I wanted to go to culinary school because I wanted to expand my culinary skills to more than just what I knew growing up in a Hispanic household
AESCA: Why did you choose Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts?
PG: I chose Escoffier because of the history and the program style. I knew I could get the same education here that I could at a 4 year college in much less time.
AESCA: You began working at the Ritz Carlton in Denver when you began school. Can you talk about what that experience has been like?
PG: The experience has been completely amazing and surreal. When I was first told that I had been offered a job there, I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked and speechless
AESCA: What are the perks of working in a kitchen while attending school?
PG: The perks are that you can learn from your fellow colleagues who have been in the industry a long time and then use that knowledge and apply it to your schooling as well as help your classmates.
AESCA: What was your culinary background before you came to Escoffier?
PG: I grew up in a Hispanic household learning all about Mexican food and how to cook it. There were so many things to learn but I wanted to know more so I went back to school.
AESCA: Are there any areas in particular that you have noticed a large skills improvement?
PG: I’ve noticed that I am more comfortable in my knife skills. I love teaching my classmates what I’ve learned from class and chefs in the industry and help them grow and expand their knowledge
AESCA: Did the Career Services department help you get your job? How so?
PG: I got the job from the job fair that was being held at the school. I truly appreciate the opportunities that they offered and the fact they have helped me through this transition.
AESCA: So far, how has your experience been working with the different departments within the school?
PG: My experience has been wonderful. Everyone is very knowledgeable and there are many opportunities for students to get jobs in the industry. They’re always willing to help you succeed and find another job if the other one doesn’t work out
AESCA: What advice do you have for others balancing work and school?
PG: It’s tough and tiring but keep your head up and give it all you have. It will be worth it in the end. You can be successful! You will be extremely thankful for how much you grow from when you started.