FOOD Y LA FAMILIA
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 ….
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