As the first student in Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts Boulder’s online culinary arts certificate program, Anthony Avasakdi has been waiting a long time for the opportunity to pursue a culinary education. With more than 30 years in the business, he has a resume filled with experience working as a sous chef, executive sous chef, executive chef and now a research chef. With his sights set on a more promising position, Anthony is thrilled he was was able to find an education that worked with him and his busy work-life schedule. He’s ready to dive in to his education, learn as much as he can, refine his skills and ultimately be left with a certificate that enables him to advance further in his career.
Anthony took some time before school starts to talk about his career goals, what having a culinary education will achieve and what his absolute favorite food to make is.
Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts: After 30 years in the business, why are you now pursuing a culinary arts education?
Anthony Avasakdi: Well, when you are starting out in your career, money is always the issue and time is not really available to go to school and work at the same time. Now that I have an established career in culinary arts, I wanted to have the opportunity to complete my career path by attending culinary school. I always felt that it is important to have education on your side to reinforce what you get in the work force. Learning in school and learning on the job are very much different from each other. Today classical cooking and learning the basics of true culinary arts skills is not taught in the career world but in school you can learn that, and I feel that it is a core part of culinary arts that every chef should have the opportunity to learn.
AESCA: What caught your eye about Boulder’s online culinary arts certificate program?
AA: Working a full time job and having a family to support, time is still tight to go to school full-time. I have been looking for a long time for a program that could be done 100% of the time online. This program will be able to give working people in the hospitality industry an opportunity to earn a culinary certificate in a good amount of time.
AESCA: How do you feel about online education?
AA: With the computer technology so advanced now, I feel it is a great way to do education. If it was not for online learning, I don’t think any education would be possible for the working people out there.
AESCA: What are you most excited about for your culinary education and what comes after?
AA: I feel like I will be able to advance with a culinary certificate in my current company. It will also boost my resume having education as well as work experience.
AESCA: Why do you feel online culinary school can benefit others like you in the industry?
AA: This will benefit others like myself in the industry by allowing to fit the school in your regular schedule while still working a normal schedule without any conflicts.
AESCA: Tell me about your background in the culinary arts. Where did you start and where are you now?
AA: My background in the culinary arts started with my father. I used to go to work with my father, a chef in Monterey, CA. He was the chef of the Naval Post-Graduate School, the Rancho Canada Golf Course, and later owned his own restaurant. I spent all my free time with my dad and learned what he did and how all the departments worked and was able to see how he managed people. I started out as a cook working with my father. Then we moved to Bangkok, Thailand where I got a job as a chef de partie in a 4 star hotel and worked there for 4 years. I came back to the United States and worked in hotels as sous chef, executive sous chef and then was promoted to executive chef for about 15 years.
Later in my career, I wanted to transition into running free standing restaurants. I worked for a Cheesecake Factory, Rainforest Café and later ended up at some Yard House restaurants. All of the restaurants were incredibly successful and had food sales of upwards of $10 million. However, my love was always in the research and development area of the culinary industry so I worked towards my current position as Research chef.
AESCA: What would you like to see in the future for your career?
AA: I would like to see more opportunity for position advancement along with better financial gains. I would also like to provide a better opportunity to coach others that would like to follow a similar career path as my own.
AESCA: What is your favorite dish to make? How about to eat?
AA: My favorite dish to make is any pasta dish. What goes better with a pasta dish than a great thick cut ribeye steak—my favorite thing to eat. Simple and tasty!
AESCA: What do you love most about working in the culinary arts industry?
AA: I love the food and how food has evolved so much from the time I started until now. The other is the people that are involved in our industry. Every family member in the HOH (Heart of the House) works incredibly hard every day to provide the best customer service to our guests.
AESCA: What advice do you have for fellow culinary students?
AA: My advice is these 3 things:
1. Follow your heart and learn the most you can
2. Have a lot of humility!
3. Be patient with what you want. It might not happen right away!