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Norma Elletson, January 2016 Student of the Month

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Norma Elletson headshot

Name: Norma Elletson
Hometown: Rosharon
Current City: Atascocita
Course of Study: A.A.S in Baking and Pastry
Year of Graduation: May 2016
Personal Motivational Motto: Go big or go home

“…We actually looked at different schools here in Houston and Culinary Institute LeNôtre® was different and I knew that I wanted to be different…”

The passion to pursue your dreams always begins from somewhere or someone; for Norma it was her mother. Growing up as first generation in the U.S. all they knew was traditional Mexican cuisine. Realizing how much there is out there is what drives her to want to learn new things and try everything. “…Since I was little I had a French book with puff pastries and before I could even read I would look at the pictures and I would always tell my mom I wanted to do that…”

Norma is one of our students that is following her passion and veering from her previous career. She began working at the age of 15. During her high school years, her parents divorced and she began working 3 jobs to help her mother. This kept her from going to school but she knew getting a better job would help. This is when she began working as a dental assistant but deep down she knew it wasn’t what she wanted to do. After some time Norma got married, followed by her husband deploying and they eventually got pregnant with her son. One day, after all of life’s setbacks on her career and seeing Norma unhappy, her husband told her “it’s your time, you were there for me when I deployed through all the hard times…something needs to change”. He asked, “if money wasn’t an option, what do you want to do” and she told him. Norma says, “Sure enough the next day we came to the school. We actually looked at different schools here in Houston and Culinary Institute LeNôtre® was different and I knew that I wanted to be different. They offered better things that I think would help my career so we signed up and I quit my job and I started coming here full time. Ever since I’ve been here it’s open new doors; it’s endless…”

Norma with pastry chef mentor.Some of the opportunities Norma has had the opportunity to take part in have been helping out Chef Franck Iglesias for Cacao Barry, Jérôme Langillier- World Pastry Chef 2009, which she says was awesome as being perfect and precise motivated her more. Not only does she get inspired by Chefs outside of the school but within. “…Going to competitions and seeing all the work, Chef Christelle and the pieces she does have inspired me. Now that I’m barely beginning but seeing other people, the quality, I feel like now I have the palate. Being exposed to so much even last year we did the truffle comp with the school which was amazing as well..”

Norma says, “…I know I’ve dedicated 100% attending here and I try to get the most out of the experience here at school and I think that it helped me a lot. I’ve met some great chefs that have given me recommendations to work for them, that’s, that’s awesome”.

One of her recent ventures was to Cancun with Chef Christelle. “It was an awesome experience. It taught me to be precise and it taught me to be fast. You have to learn as a team and you need the team to work together to go by fast…I can see the passion in chef Christelle, that’s motivation for me in the future. My goal overall is to have a business, which I do but I want to have an establishment. I want to learn more about wine and hopefully go that route and create a wine bar…” Norma has excelled in her studies and has made a great impression on her Chefs. She will be going to France this March for her practicum which was one of her goals when coming into the school. She says that from this trip she expects to learn the root of what she’s doing at CIL, to embrace the culture, learn from the best chefs and learn the history of the pastries. “I know we do it here but it’s like going home and my grandma makes it, I bet it’s different”.

Norma with CIL classmatesIt’s great to see Norma active within the school and give her all to this passion. To those that may be in doubt about taking the risk Norma says, “Do it! You aren’t getting any younger. Don’t regret it, don’t hesitate, what do you have to loose-life is so short. If it was up to me I would have done it a long time ago. Do what makes you happy, you can be a billionaire but not be happy, if this is your call I think you should definitely do it…When we came and talked to Ellen she was very helpful and she looked very excited about being here. We went to other schools and they just had no idea about their school, their degree plan and that disappointed us; why should we go somewhere where they can’t even tell us what they offer? And here, it seemed great. She even took the tour through level 1 and I pictured myself doing that and I signed up.”

Student Life: “Anything you would like to add?”

Norma: “I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the chefs that believed in me. Also to Chef Christelle who gave me the opportunity to help train chefs in Mexico. This was truly an experience I would never forget.”

There is no doubt in our mind that Norma deserves to be Student of the Month. We hope to continue seeing her progress and the amazing things she accomplishes.