Meet Your Instructor, Chef Cesar!
Beginning his career in the culinary arts before he was in high school, chef instructor Cesar Herrera has known that he wanted to be working in the restaurant industry for a long time. With a vast range in culinary specialties, Cesar has been the sous chef or executive chef in some of Chicago’s Northwest suburbs finest dining establishments. Having also owned and operated his own restaurants, he knows how to be successful at many different aspects of the industry which makes him an incredible asset for our students to have. This online culinary school educator is a major part of our team and we agree with our students when they say they don’t know what they would do without him!
Chef Cesar took a moment from helping students to talk to us a bit about why he believes in online culinary education, his background and the first dish that made him feel like an accomplished chef!
Escoffier Online: What is your background in the culinary arts?
Chef Cesar Herrera: I began my culinary career during my junior year in high school. My first job was at 1776 Restaurant as a line cook. From day one I really liked to create dishes and found it so exciting to work next to the executive chef. I learned so much from him.
EO: What has been your favorite job so far?
CCF: My favorite job was working at “Pub on the Square”. This was a fine dining restaurant where I was under the guidance of chef John Havlis. It was my first sous chef job after a couple years of training. I also got to cook diner for Bill Murray during the filming of “Groundhog Day” when I worked here!
EO: Why did you want to get into the culinary arts field?
CCF: When I was in junior high we had a home economics class where we did some cooking. This class was the one I always enjoyed the most. I knew I wanted to become a chef that early!
EO: What do you love most about being an educator with Escoffier Online?
CCF: I love to see how our students improve their skills from one assignment to the next. Also, the fact that students can contact me for help any time.
EO: What is the one ingredient you always have to have in your kitchen?
CCF: The one ingredient I always need to have in my kitchen is salt.
EO: What do you think online culinary education can offer students around the world?
CCF: I feel that we can offer them a quality and affordable culinary education where they can study at their own pace. The most important thing is that they can get advice from their chef mentor any time, one-on-one.
EO: What was your biggest dish triumph?
CCF: When I prepared my fist consommé.
EO: What is your favorite restaurant in the world and why?
CCF: La Hacienda de los Morales located in downtown México city. The colonial architecture of the building is beautiful and the building is 500 year old. The food is authentic Mexican food with a European fusion.
EO: You own your own business, tell us a little about what that’s like, why you started it and what you find it rewarding?
CCF: Owning your own business is a big responsibility and you have a big responsibility with your employees and customers. You need to make sure the business is successful since many people depend on it to take care of their family.
The reason I started my business was because I wanted to learn that side of the industry but there is a big difference between being the executive chef of an establishment and being the owner. When you are the owner, there are many other things you have to worry about than when you are the chef.
EO: What are your top 3 favorite ingredients to cook with right now?
CCF: My favorite ingredients are seafood, saffron and heavy cream
EO: We usually all have one! Is there a food you hate?
CCF: I definitely do not like sauerkraut.
EO: Any words of advice for people thinking about getting into the culinary arts?
CCF: I would advise them to talk to a chef and ask as many questions as possible related to working in the industry before making the commitment to a culinary school.
When I was working as a chef, I had the opportunity to train a young man and woman doing their internship. They were very surprised to find out all the long hours they had to work under pressure at a fast pace.