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Diana Hernandez

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Diana Hernandez headshotDiana Hernandez
Houston, Texas
October 2015
Elite Diplome in Culinary Arts

Classes at Culinary Institute LeNôtre® “…taught me how to be a professional by having high expectations for you and being realistic. They put us in real world situations that would give us an advantage in the field such as working with teams to develop the dishes weekly by the menu that was assigned to us.”

Diana at a high school competitionNot everyone gets to pursue their dreams at a young age but our our Alumna Diana Hernandez knew Culinary Arts was something she wanted to do. “It all started when I was a senior in high school. I was in the Conroe Culinary Arts Academy in High School and every year the students competed in culinary competitions called SkillsUSA and ProStart. Senior year was the year for me. I told myself if I don’t do it now I will never do it, so I pushed through it and entered all the competitions I could. ProStart was an intense competition. The culinary competition highlighted each team’s creativity and ability to form a three-course meal in 60 minutes, using two butane burners, and without access to running water or electricity. There was no room for error. We were evaluated on taste, skill, teamwork, safety and sanitation. So when it came to the SkillsUSA competition I was more than ready. I ended up placing 1st place in District and 12 out of 42 in state. Then and there is where I decided that this field was for me. I loved everything about it“.

We asked Diana, what inspired you to become a chef ?

Diana with her LeNôtre certificate“Truthfully I feel like I was meant to be in the kitchen. I grew up in the restaurant business. Most of my family either worked in restaurants or owned. So I feel like it was destiny. But what inspired me the most was the decision I took to help people. I told myself that one day I would be able to provide healthy and delicious food to those in need for a better lifestyle. With the intention of being a Nutritionist with a culinary arts degree.”

Having chosen Culinary Institute LeNôtre, how would you describe the impact of your courses at CIL on your daily life ?

“Well one thing for sure it made me think of food in a different way. It made me appreciate the transformation from basic ingredients and vegetables and molding them into something spectacular with color, taste and an amazing presentation. It made me fall in love with the whole concept and being able to express yourself through a plate. It also taught me how to be a professional by having high expectations for you and being realistic. They put us in real world situations that would give us an advantage in the field such as working with teams to develop the dishes weekly by the menu that was assigned to us. All the techniques that I learned at CIL and all the things I practiced where exactly what I needed for my internship.”

Diana continued on by telling us what a great opportunity she recently had by being able to partake in an internship at Los Cabos right after graduation. The opportunity had presented itself at the perfect time for her and she tells us it was very fitting. Read more about her experience by clicking here.

Any memorable moments as a student?

Diana with the kitchen staff in Cabo“I always think back at the first day of class. I had just graduated high school and for me it was such a dramatic change. The whole atmosphere was different, my classmates varied from ages 19 to 50 and the teachers were in a whole different concept. The way of teaching was outstanding, intense and fast-paced.  By learning how to make weekly menus and having to present them twice a week to the school. It taught us to be more open minded and be proud of what we had produced in the kitchen with our own skills.”

Do you have any projects in mind or in action ?

“Yes since I recently came back from an internship in Los Cabos it opened up my eyes and made me think bigger than just here in Houston. I am planning to do another internship in Cancun for a couple of months and learn as much as I can. I am also going back to school to pursue my dream of becoming a nutritionist/dietitian and be able to help people in need of a healthier lifestyle. And also become personal trainer in a couple of months. But most of all I want to learn all there is to a kitchen so one day I can have my own catering business and be my own boss.”

It’s great to see Alumni give back their time to others aiming to reach their dreams. When asked, what do you like to do on your personal time, she responded, “I love weightlifting, reading, and of course cooking. I also volunteer and go to high schools and mentor students that are involved in the Culinary Arts Academy and help them in anyway that I can. I always look back at where I started because I know someone out there is living the same dream I had when I was younger”.  “Always come with the best attitude. Always find a way when there is no way. Be patient with yourself and most of all… cook it with love.”

To read more about Diana’s experience in her internship at Los Cabos click here

Diana working on making pastries in the kitchen.    Diana ready for zip lining in Cabo.

Photo of the resort in Cabo.    Diana standing outside at the resort

Diana driving around Cabo   Diana with friends from her internship.