(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Growing up around restaurants and catering inspired Stephanie Salazar to enroll in the Culinary Arts program at Texas State Technical College.
Salazar received her Associate of Applied Science degree in 2019 and is now the dietary and nutrition services director at McAllen Nursing Center, where she is able to utilize her skills in the industry while also helping others in the process.
“My parents had a catering company when I was growing up, and I would help where I could,” she said. “My father also had his own restaurant. My parents are the ones who inspired me and pushed me to be creative and explore the culinary world more.”
She said that not only was the Culinary Arts program hands-on, but the encouragement from the instructors also gave students extra motivation.
“I loved my classes and all the material I was exposed to while at TSTC,” she said. “The instructors really push their students to get out of their comfort zone and work with foods they otherwise would not have.”
TSTC Culinary Arts instructor Emma Creps vividly recalled Salazar’s desire to continually learn new things.
“You could just tell by the way she performed in the labs that she had a passion for culinary arts,” she said. “Stephanie definitely stood out in her class and never hesitated to take initiative, ask questions and seek advice. I am truly proud of her.”
The Culinary Arts program equipped Salazar with the information she needed to succeed not only in the field, but also in other areas that come with a career.
“The courses I took at TSTC in regard to management really helped me know how to break down things properly and be as effective as possible,” she said. “Learning about that side of the business helped me in the environment I went into because I knew the structural foundation of what I needed to do.”
She added that her knowledge of the industry brought her one of her greatest successes.
“I recently started my current position and was recruited due to my record at a previous company,” she said. “I was offered a higher position and a much higher salary. I am very proud of the role I have right now and am also proud of my degree. I am able to live comfortably because of it.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for chefs and head cooks will see a faster-than-average increase through 2029.
To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.