Graduate Anthony Chevalier is changing careers thanks to culinary arts training he received at San Jacinto College. Chevalier is shown receiving his degree from North Campus President Dr. Allatia Harris. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing department.
Student spotlight: retiree’s culinary arts dreams finally coming true
Rob Vanya, July 10, 2012
HOUSTON –Anthony Chevalier’s personal philosophy is “never let your past determine your future,” and the 50-year-old San Jacinto College graduate practices what he preaches.
At a stage in life when many make retirement plans, Chevalier returned to school to enhance skills he will need to establish a new career. He recently earned a culinary arts associate degree from the College and will continue studying culinary arts at the University of Houston (UH), with a career goal of improving and growing “A Taste of Catering,” a business he owns and has been operating on the side. Chevalier’s full-time job is a crew chief for American Airlines, but he will soon retire after 29 years of service with the airline.
He’s walking away from a good position with some misgivings, but says it’s the right thing for him at this time. “I do like the stability provided by the steady job at American Airlines, and it’s a great company to work for,” he commented. “But it’s time to move on, put the past behind me, and devote all my time to culinary arts. I will be working not just for a paycheck. I will be doing what I really love to do.”
While working at the airline, Chevalier was not able to devote a lot of time to his catering business, but he always had a dream of doing something more with his food service venture. “I wanted to take ‘A Taste of Catering’ to a higher level – to grow the business, expand the menu offerings, produce a higher quality of service, and attract more clientele.” He always had a passion for cooking, but attending San Jacinto College opened up the world of professional culinary arts to Chevalier. “I’ve learned so much about the importance of presentation, and the finer points of the culinary trade,” he remarked. “As with any business, if you do not improve in culinary arts, then you just stagnate. I chose San Jacinto College because I wanted to learn more cooking skills and to become more professional. It was the best choice I could have made.”
Although older than most of his fellow students, Chevalier excelled in culinary arts at San Jacinto College, and was selected as the keynote speaker at the North Campus’ Spring 2012 commencement ceremony. Because of his academic performance, and because of his catering business experience, Chevalier was recently hired to work as an adjunct culinary arts instructor at UH while he is a student at the university’s Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management.
He says it will seem sort of strange to be both a teacher and a student at the same time, yet it will be exciting and energizing because his dreams of operating a professional culinary arts business are finally coming true. “It was very difficult, working full time for American, while running a catering business on the side, and going to San Jacinto College,” he said. “It will also be very challenging to work as a teacher, while running the catering business, and going to UH as a student. But I am determined to succeed because I want to set a good example for my children. And who knows, perhaps my story can inspire older adults who may want to explore new career opportunities to see that it’s never too late – it can be done.”
San Jacinto College offers a wide range of culinary arts classes and degree options at the North and Central campuses.
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.
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