two men and one woman holding a sign

(ABILENE, Texas) – Texas State Technical College alumna Caitlin Wallace-Bruno said she was surprised to learn that her restaurant had been nominated for the Abilene Chamber of Commerce’s New Business of the Year award.

“It was an even bigger shock when I learned I was one of three finalists,” said the 2018 Culinary Arts graduate and owner of Caitie Pies in downtown Abilene.

Brandon Scott Thomas, TSTC’s senior field development officer for The TSTC Foundation, said Wallace-Bruno’s determination to succeed led to her being nominated for the award, the winner of which will be announced on Tuesday, May 7, during an event held at the 201 Mesquite Event Center in Abilene.

“Caitie has built her business from scratch, and her dedication is why she was nominated,” he said. “I like to bring people to Caitie Pies to brag about how well TSTC graduates are doing and how they make a difference in the community.”

Wallace-Bruno did not start her career path in the culinary world. She began college in pursuit of an English degree to become a teacher but later turned to her other passion: cooking and baking.

After she graduated from TSTC, Wallace-Bruno worked for a barbecue restaurant and later as an executive food director for an Abilene church. At the same time, she operated Caitie Pies.

She opened her current location on Pine Street last year. And people have taken notice.

“We are thriving because people know we are here,” she said. “We offer breakfast and lunch options, which everyone seems to like.”

Tyler Canales, who is the sous-chef at Caitie Pies, said working for Wallace-Bruno is rewarding.

“She works hard in everything she does,” Canales said. “Working here is a true team environment because Caitie is going to be in the trenches with you.”

Wallace-Bruno credits her team for the business’s success.

“I am so proud of my crew and all the things they do for me,” she said.

Another person who is always in the kitchen next to Wallace-Bruno is her husband, Edwin Bruno.

“He is incredibly supportive of what I want to accomplish,” she said. “He has watched me make things from scratch and gets right in there and helps everyone.”

Wallace-Bruno remembers her TSTC training when she is in the kitchen or working on the business side.

“TSTC really helped me with the financial aspect of running a restaurant,” she said. “We went over everything from ordering, food costs, making menus and other aspects.”

Her final exam of the program was a weeklong endeavor of operating a restaurant on the Abilene campus.

“We had to do everything, and it was a great way to prepare me for my career,” she said.

TSTC offers an Associate of Applied Science and various certificates of completion in Culinary Arts at the East Williamson County and Waco locations. The need for chefs and head cooks in Texas was forecast to increase 37% between 2020 and 2030, according to

Registration for TSTC’s summer and fall semesters is underway. Learn more at

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Caitlin Wallace-Bruno works on pastry sheets at Caitie Pies in Abilene.
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