The Art Institute of Houston
If you choose to do this for a living, take it very seriously. Manuel Catemaxca , Culinary Instructor , The Art Institute of Houston
Was there a defining moment when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?
When I was 17, I went to work in a professional kitchen creating cuisine for both national and international airlines. That’s when I started thinking seriously about making it a career. I began to see the possibilities, as well as the passion and dedication the industry demands.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience?
I enjoy sharing my experience with students. Working in many hotels, country clubs, and fine dining restaurants, and being a part of many professional culinary competitions, I’ve gained the knowledge to coach students and prepare them for the real culinary world.
What class assignment exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring?
I mentor my students every chance I get to help them improve their skills. Skill building is essential to professional success in this field. In the Pastry Club, students can learn different techniques and work in various mediums to improve their skills.
How does collaboration contribute to students’ success—particularly when students from various programs work together?
Photography plays a very important role in our field. Photography students have contributed their time and talent on numerous occasions—for example, helping our students put together their personal portfolios.
What’s the most important thing you impart to students to help them succeed in class and the real world?
The culinary industry is about passion. If you choose to do this for a living, take it very seriously.
What’s the most critical advice you would offer any student embarking on a creative career?
It’s a very demanding and challenging industry that demands personal sacrifice.
Anything else you’d like to share?
It’s so rewarding to see students succeed in the industry.