(HARLINGEN, Texas) – The end of the year brings about many festivities that have one thing in common: food. Texas State Technical College Culinary Arts instructors Ayla Cabarubio and Emma Creps know a thing or two about the importance behind the traditions that come from homemade meals and shared experiences at the dinner table.
“When I was growing up, I was always excited when my father would cook meals for the holidays,” Creps said. “He was the chef of the day, and without knowing it, I was his sous-chef.”
Cabarubio also shared some of her favorite holiday memories.
“Some of the first memories I have are the cookie trays that my mom would make for her friends and co-workers,” she said. “Specifically, I remember chocolate thumbprint cookies. They were my favorite to eat, and I would help make them by putting the thumbprint into the cookie.”
Now that both Creps and Cabarubio have plenty of experience in culinary arts, they both look forward to creating memories through taste buds during the holiday season.
“I get true enjoyment out of cooking,” Creps said. “Sharing those memories with my kids is the icing on the cake. I notice that these moments get them excited, just as I did when I was a kid.”
Knowing that this time of year also means plenty of time in the kitchen, they both offered some advice for those who are about to start preparing their family favorites.
“Prep some of the ingredients ahead of time, such as chopping onions, preparing the masa and cooking the meat fillings,” Creps said. “Place these items in the freezer so as not to get too overwhelmed on the day of.”
Cabarubio added that organization is key to success in the kitchen.
“Organize your cooking area to have everything you need within reach,” she said. “This will give you space to work on multiple items at once, which will allow you to be more efficient in the kitchen.”
Despite the hard work that goes into the preparation of holiday meals, both chefs know that food is one of the main ingredients to traditions that will last a lifetime.
“Holiday meals signify who you are, and they connect you to your memories,” Creps said.
Cabarubio feels the same way.
“When food is prepared for the holidays, it is usually prepared by more than one person. The tradition of getting loved ones together is something that I have always enjoyed.”
To learn more about TSTC, visit tstc.edu.