Graduate Spotlight: Maricela Ramirez
For Maricela Ramirez, her education with Escoffier was more than taking online classes and gaining her certificate. It was a life changer; opening doors that she is sure would not have been there if she hadn’t done all the hard work. Already fast on her way to sous chef of the trendy Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co. in Hays, Kansas, a place where she has the least amount of experience in the kitchen, it’s impossible not to relate this to a Cinderella story of sorts. She has a lot to say about her online culinary arts classes with Escoffier and her new responsibilities, but you will never hear her contribute her success to luck. What she will tell you is that her time in school taught her the most important skills she uses on a daily basis like knife exercises, recipe preparation steps, preparation techniques, seasoning and plating. Her boss has been impressed with her new education as well, encouraging her to wear her chef’s jacket and naming her his “right hand women” in the kitchen, an honor she’s incredibly proud of. Most importantly, Maricella is confident that everything she learned while finishing her education not only helped start her career as a chef but that she also gained invaluable knowledge that she might not have learned through experience.
Lucky for us, Maricela took some time from her new role to spill about her promotion and why she has just can’t stop raving about her culinary arts experience.
Escoffier: How did you decide to enroll in Escoffier Online?
Ramirez: I’ll start by telling you that I consulted several schools online and I found Escoffier to be the most accessible, comprehensive and understandable. It took only a few seconds to understand that Escoffier was by far the international cooking school I wanted to belong to.
Escoffier: Where do you currently work and what are your responsibilities?
Ramirez: I work at Gella’s Diner & Lb. Brewing Co. in Hayes, Kansas, one of the best restaurants in town. I can say that my responsibilities [have] increased since I finished my studies with Escoffier. My boss trusts me to take care of some of the banquets we have in the restaurant. I also prepare food like chicken breast with pesto pasta, fruit trays and chocolate covered strawberries, paninis and many other food items. Also, I do banquets up to 400 people and my job is to make sure that everything is right before it goes out of the kitchen.
Escoffier: Your boss recently found out you were attending Escoffier Online, tell me what he offered you?
Ramirez: Well, first he congratulated me for making that decision and said that studying never hurts, something that I agreed with him on. To start, he told me that I could use my chef’s jacket instead of the shirt I used before, which inspired me a lot. Also, he said he would make me the sous chef and obviously I would get paid more. He said, “Maricela, someday you will be my sous chef because you already are my right hand in the kitchen.” Since I graduated, he has given me the keys to the restaurant to open and close. The truth is that it makes me feel very good to hear him say that I’m his right hand and that he trusts me to run his kitchen when he is not there, even though I know I have a lot more to learn. This career is very demanding but at the same time so rewarding. I know that all of these opportunities have arisen because I graduated from Escoffier, one of the best online cooking schools.
Escoffier: What was it that made your boss decide to promote you once you graduated?
Ramirez: I think that even if you cook for many years in a kitchen, there is always something new to learn. But attending a culinary school will teach you many other things that you may never be able to learn [from experience]. For example, how to figure out the selling price for a dish, how to organize yourself before preparing a recipe, and how to present and show off your dishes etc. and much more.
Escoffier: What skills have you learned from the program that you use on a daily basis at your job?
Ramirez: There are many but the most important ones that have helped me the most are the steps on how to prepare a recipe. Like MEP, knife skills, correct preparation techniques, doneness, seasoning and plating. Also, sanitation practices like the use of different cutting boards. I apply all of this in my job on a regular basis and it makes my job much easier. In a few words, deciding to study at Escoffier was one of the best decisions I have made.
Escoffier: Do you have any advice to share with new students entering the program?
Ramirez: First, they are in the best school. That’s already a breakthrough. You have the best chef mentors. With respect to chef Cesar, who was my mentor, all his advice was very helpful to clear my doubts and was always crystal clear. He was always there to answer all my questions, always attentive when I asked my questions, like if I could substitute ingredients for my assignments. For me he was the best chef mentor that I could have. But getting back to the topic, if you already decided what you want to do and want to do it in a more professional way, then enroll with Escoffier and you will keep learning with the great team Escoffier has. You will see that once you graduate the doors for success will open for you automatically. For me personally, having studied gave me the opportunity to grow much more.