Harlingen Culinary Arts

(HARLINGEN, Texas) – Imagine that your dream career is to be an executive chef and running a successful restaurant. Where can this career begin?

One such place is Texas State Technical College.

TSTC’s Culinary Arts program hosts a weekly drive-thru luncheon for the TSTC community. A TSTC culinary student is given the opportunity to be an executive chef by Emma Creps, the Harlingen campus program’s lead instructor.

The student selects a region and incorporates authentic recipes for that menu. This week’s regional menu focused on New England and included a lobster roll, a boiled dinner with horseradish sauce, a clam boil, and a savory chicken breast with herb stuffing.

The experience is beneficial for students because they gain expertise by working in an actual kitchen and using quality products from their greenhouse.

Due to COVID-19, TSTC culinary instructors were determined to find the necessary training for their students. Many restaurants and food vendors have implemented drive-thru and curbside options. It was determined that this would be the ideal training with the proper COVID-19 safety procedures.

“What we love about the focus for this class is our students are receiving the training to learn how to budget, control their costs, and receive a report at the end of the day that shows their sales so they can create a profit-and-loss spreadsheet,” said Veronica Munguia, a TSTC Culinary Arts instructor. “This is giving them back-of-the-house management experience, which is going to push them along when they begin their career.”

Guadalupe Zapata, a Culinary Arts student, participated in the drive-thru luncheon. After working his construction job, he watches cooking shows on television for inspiration.

“I would come home with those ingredients and try to make something at home,” Zapata said.

The drive-thru luncheon will occur throughout the fall semester, with the exception of midterm week and finals.

The yearly median salary in Texas for chefs and head cooks is more than $56,000, with more than 7,700 chefs needed by 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s CareerOneStop website.

TSTC’s Culinary Arts program offers an Associate of Applied Science degree and several certificates of completion at its campuses in East Williamson County, Harlingen and Waco.

For more information, go to tstc.edu.

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