December 2014 Student of the Month Profile

laura callan copy


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….

November 2014 Student of the Month Profile

mia mcnulty

For Mia McNulty, Arizona Culinary Institute’s November 2014 Student of the Month, Great Food and a Multi-Generational Family Go Hand-In-Hand as She Charts Her Own Course for a Future in the Culinary Arts.
For as long as she can remember, great food and a large, multi-generational family have been the defining characteristics in Mia McNulty’s life, Arizona Culinary Institute’s November 2014 Student of the Month. As a very small child, she vividly remembers placing the olive in the corn dough as her role in the tamale assembly-line at festive family gatherings, and Mia was baking at age seven, and cooking by age 10. “My whole family just loves to cook, and my mom was a ‘health nut’ before it was trendy, always insisting on fresh foods rather than anything packaged or frozen,” recalls McNulty. “My mom actually taught herself French, so she could read the high-end cookbooks!”
Mia’s mom also watched Jacques Pepin’s cooking show on TV and McNulty to this day is still drawn to the shows that focus on instruction and food history and science, rather than mere drama. “I believe that we’re all multi-faceted and complicated and stereotypes have never worked for me,” related McNulty. “We all keep who we are in this world – and move forward the best way we can.”
In true fashion, McNulty’s creative nature continued to blossom, but she followed her more meticulous, analytical side to Arizona State University where she ultimately earned her Master’s Degree in Biology, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Scholarly Publishing.
McNulty carved out a nice life for herself in the education field, even adding a Project Management Certification along the way.
“My life became neat, orderly, prepared – and completely unfulfilling,” sighs a courageous McNulty.
McNulty’s graduate mentor in Biology at ASU, Richard Creath, was also a pastry chef, and Mia recalls how he sometimes laughed and said, “Let’s make croissants,” as a way to break the monotony and let off some steam during moments of frustration when working on complex projects.
McNulty finally decided to follow that creative voice in her head, and a family friend recommended that she go see Professor Bruce Sandground at Arizona Culinary Institute. Mia loved what she saw at ACI, and is now slated to receive her Diploma in Culinary Arts, Baking, and Restaurant Management in January of 2015. “Mia is the perfect storm,” explains Arizona Culinary Institute Intstructor Bruce Sandground. “She’s a vibrant mix of passion, intelligence, creativity, organization and hospitality. She will surely succeed on any path she chooses for her career in the culinary arts.”
McNulty is looking forward to working in ACI’s own student-run du Jour Restaurant and she hopes to own her own restaurant one day, serving a Mexican food inspired cuisine. Mia credits local legend, Chef Silvana Salcido Esparza and her amazing Barrio Café for influencing her future passions.
“Mexican food somehow got a bad reputation, and it’s supposed to be cheap,” intones McNulty. “But Chef Silvana has instead focused on expertise of technique in her wonderful presentations, and I want to follow this road.”
Proving food snobs wrong – and being true to the many facets of her own personality – mean the future looks bright, and perhaps even complicated, which is good with Mia McNulty as she continues to follow her own unique path into the future ….

October 2014 Student of the Month Profile

What It Takes To Be Great

Evan Kenmore
Arizona Culinary Institute’s October 2014 Student of the Month, Evan Kenmore, isn’t looking for money and fame – he just wants to keep making food that people enjoy

Chef Robert Wilson, Arizona Culinary Institute’s (ACI) cofounder, has taught many student chefs over the years, but every once in a while, a talent comes along with the ability to turn heads. Such is the case with October 2014 Student of the Month Evan Kenmore. “I was amazed at Evan’s natural ability,” beams a proud Wilson. “He catches on so rapidly, and he’s one of those rare students that you show him how to do something once, and the next time, he’s already an expert at the task.”

Kenmore has obviously found his calling in the culinary arts, but it wasn’t always this way. Attending community college in Orange County, California, and working as a warehouse manager for a document imaging company, something was missing from his life. “I felt like my career had stagnated, “relates Kenmore. “ I had always dreamed of owning my own restaurant – being a chef and operator – and the thought of having some farm land, growing my own crops and bringing fresh food to the table really drove me to seek out an opportunity to move forward in my life.”

The opportunity came when Kenmore’s brother accepted a job with St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, AZ. Kenmore found Arizona Culinary Institute online; attended an Open House in Scottsdale; and then, signed up for classes immediately.“The smaller class sizes mean that you have more time with ACI’s talented staff of chef instructors,” explains Kenmore. “I love the curriculum and with an accelerated program, things move fast and you’re exposed to a wide variety of styles from extremely knowledgeable culinary experts.”

While Kenmore credits Alton Brown and his “Good Eats” show from the Food Network as a source of inspiration, he also makes it clear that it’s not money or fame that drives him in this field. “I just want to create, and continue to make food that people enjoy,” relates Kenmore. “I love cooking in general – raiding the pantry and coming up with endless possibilities. My Mom is Italian, and a great cook, and now, I realize that it’s an art form that gives me a lot of fulfillment – and allows me to make other people happy.”

“Evan is a rock star,” notes Arizona Culinary Institute’s Chef Christopher Wolf. “He stood out from day one, and he’s one of those students who always wanted to volunteer, always wanted to learn more, and was always willing to go the extra mile, just for the sheer joy of learning”

Kenmore looks ahead to the day when he’ll have his own restaurant, a unique place, not fancy, but a kitchen where he can create and experiment. And to anyone with similar dreams, Kenmore offers the following advice:
“Give it a shot – I truly believe that a career in food is a great investment. Just know that you can’t skate by. It’s really a field where you have to want to make the best you can – a career that you can call your own.”

Submitted by: Terence Murnin, Public Relations Director – Arizona Culinary Institute

ACI Student Fellowship Program

ACI Fellowship Program
A new opportunity for excelling students to continue their education with our instructors, and even use the program to fulfill their externship requirements.

Starting November 10th, we are rolling out the new ACI Fellowship Program. This is an opportunity for students that have demonstrated excellent performance at the school to continue their educational experience at the school, with our instructors.
At the start of each 6 week block we will select one Culinary Arts and one Baking and Pastry Fellow for the program. Then, for the next 6 weeks, you will work side by side with our instructors on various projects to advance your education.
This is a high-level position that will be focusing on pushing you to the next level of your career. Some of the rules and regulations are listed below to qualify you for the position. It will be an honor to be chosen, because you will have demonstrated a real commitment to your education at ACI.
While most of the Fellowship curriculum will be determined beforehand, part of the experience is for each Fellow to choose extra projects they would like to focus on during the program. You will work hard. It will be challenging. But, you WILL be a better culinarian when the experience is over.

1) The student must be finished with the in-house portion of the program.
2) Must have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
3) Must be in good standing with the school financially.
4) This is NOT a paid position.
5) The student must apply for the position, and will be selected by the faculty.
6) The fellow is NOT an instructor, will NOT be teaching, and will NOT be grading the students.
7) The fellow position should be used to continue the student’s education, to hone their professional skills, and to provide them with additional learning opportunities.
8) Upon completion of the program, the fellow will receive an additional certificate of completion.

Click below to download Fellowship Application

ACI Fellowship Application


Arizona Culinary Institute -Students of the Month

These students have achieved both Culinary Excellence by maintaining;  perfect attendance, 4.0 grade point average and a vote by their instructors.

January  2015
Kenneth Chu

Kenneth Chu

December  2014
Laura Callan

laura callan copy

November 2014
Mia McNulty

mia mcnulty

October 2014
Evan Kenmore

Evan Kenmore

September 2014
Julie Mitchell

julie mitchell

August 2014
Rebekah Swift

rebekah swift

July 2014
Sterling Rojo


June 2014
Westley Castle

westley cstle

May 2014
Mark Miller

mark miller

April 2014
Melissa Miola

melissa Miola

March 2014
Erica East

erica east










February 2014
William Buchholz

william buccholz










January 2014
Carol Tesser

carol tesser










December 2013

Dustin Hackworth

dustin Hackworth











November 2013

Michael Wolfson

michael wolfson










October 2013

Mallory Soule

Mallory fb










September 2013

Martin Heinrick

martin heinrick








August 2013

John Davis

john Davis








July 2013

Ian Hodo

ian hodo








June 2013

James Ferrell

james ferrel








May 2013

Lillian Porter

lillian porter








April 2013

Eric Molina

eric molina








March 2013

Ryan McBride

ryan mc bride








February 2013

Tyler Romine

Tyler Romine








January 2013

Calena Strutowski









December 2012

Paula Herrera

paula herrera








November 2012

Megan Wineland

megan wineland