Laura Callan, Arizona Culinary Institute’s December 2014 Student of the Month Leaves Her Home on the Mississippi River and Finds Culinary Bliss in Scottsdale, AZ
In a turn of events that can only be explained by the stars aligning or perhaps, poetic justice, “Whisked Away” is the name of the bakery shop where Arizona Culinary Institute’s December 2014 Student of the Month, Laura Callan, decided to pursue her dream in the culinary arts.
“A woman had opened this cool bakery shop, not far from my hometown of Clinton, Iowa, on the banks of the Mississippi river, and she just raved about Arizona Culinary Institute,” smiles Callan. “I had been looking for a cooking school with small class sizes and one-on-one instruction, and when I went online and started doing my research, everything fell into place very quickly.”
Callan grew up in an Italian family and her father taught her how to make some of her favorite dishes, including Eggplant Parmigiana and Focaccia. Although she had obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree and was working in her father’s dental practice, something inside of Callan yearned for a career in the culinary arts.
“My dad said that all leaps of faith start out scary – but end up being an adventure,” intones a very confident Callan. “I had studied baking in high school, and actually performed some internships at bakeries, and realized that cooking really touched the artistic side of my personality. Moving to Arizona was my leap of faith, and Arizona Culinary Institute has been everything I could have dreamed of.”
Callan enjoys going to school in Scottsdale and believes that the area still has a “small town” feel. She has a step-grandmother in the area, and has joined a local church, but with her 4.0 grade point average and perfect attendance, it’s clear that Callan has immersed herself in the culinary arts, spending most of her time in ACI’s kitchens.
“Laura is a total natural in the kitchen – and has a quiet strength about her,” notes Arizona Culinary Chef Instructor Jean-Marie Rigollet. “She does her work, but also helps those in need. I’m really impressed with her amazing amount of passion for cooking, her curiosity, and her positive, pleasant demeanor.”
Laura appreciates the hands-on instruction offered by ACI’s chefs, where all students are made to feel important, and engaged, and she’s amazed at her own growth in this art in a very short amount of time.
“Practicing your craft is essential,” related Callan. “Things like knife skills have to be practiced and developed. In the beginning, I was slow, but now, I can whip up a fantastic Mirepoix in minutes – instead of hours.”
Callan is slated to graduate in May of 2015, and she thinks that she’ll stay in her adopted home of Arizona, encouraged by the number of new restaurants and gastronomic opportunities here in the valley.
“I would love to open my own bake shop, or perhaps partner with my sister to create a fantastic lunch spot.”
What for certain is that Callan will undoubtedly be successful; carried away by her bliss and quiet confidence….