Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts with minor in Entrepreneurship
Why did you decide to go to culinary school?
Ever since I was 9 years old, I knew I wanted to go to culinary school. I was always drawn to cooking and hospitality and developed an interest in business during high school. When I applied to Drexel University, I decided to major in Culinary Arts and minor in Entrepreneurship, so that I would have a background to work in both the creative and food management sides of culinary arts.
Are you a member of any organizations or clubs?
I’ve been a member of the Drexel Food Lab for two and a half years. Professor Jonathan Deutsch, PhD and student, Ally Zeitz, now the program manager, started it three years ago. We consult with food companies, both large brands like McCormick and small nonprofit organizations. We conduct food testing, product development and recipe writing for websites and event management. I’m also the president and captain of the Drexel club soccer team.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find a lot inspiration working in the Drexel Food Lab. Whether it’s developing gluten-free products or solving food waste issues, I’m challenged to think creatively and develop solutions that work best for that company.
Are there any chefs or culinary innovators that inspire you?
I love and appreciate the techniques and traditions of award-winning Italian Chef Massimo Bottura. His book, Never Trust a Skinny Italian Chef, really inspired me, as did the profile of Chef Bottura and his restaurant, Netflix’s “Chef’s Table.” I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Rome, Italy. My professor, Michael Trod, got me a reservation at Massimo’s restaurant Osteria Francescana, in Modena, Italy. It was an incredible experience. I got to hear his story and how he came to be one of the most renowned chefs in the world. He is from a small town and showcases his regional cuisine.
What are your favorite ingredients?
While in Italy, I ate very seasonally and have continued to cook seasonally. I’m a member of the CSA Philly Food Works, so I get a weekly box of eight to 10 fruits and vegetables. I love working with local ingredients and letting the season and flavors inspire the dish.
Can you share something about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn?
I am a quarter Mexican and my last name, De Los Reyes, means “of the king.” My grandparents are originally from Mexico. When they moved to Los Angeles, my grandmother opened the first tortilla factory in the U.S.
What is a typical day like for you?
This semester I am taking a butchery lab, food science and business technology courses. I have soccer two times week. I also work the Food Lab and various events. I love and thrive on being busy which is another reason why I am drawn to the hospitality industry.
Any fun projects you can discuss?
In my butchery class final, I cured a pork shoulder and made capacollo. I presented it on pizza with arugula and artichoke. I was happy with the end product.
I’m really excited about my big senior project. I’m creating a business plan for a late-night “better-for-you” snack concept food truck at Drexel. Along with the business plan, I am developing two separate pop-up events that showcase the menu concepts. For example, I want to offer cereal and pop-tart options that feature locally grown grains. I also want to do healthier versions of pizza rolls and ramen.
Do you have any advice for new students and prospective culinary students?
Students typically attend culinary school to become restaurant chefs and work their way up to be executive chefs. There are so many new technologies and different fields within the culinary space, that you have more opportunities in the food industry. Students should research all of their career options and explore different courses. They might be surprised what they’re interested in.