A DISTINCTIVE NAME. A DISTINCT PASSION FOR THE CULINARY ARTS.

Carrick Younkin, Arizona Culinary Institute’s April 2015 Student of the Month Finds a Home in Arizona as He Boldly Follows His Dream to Be an Executive Chef

With a 4.0 GPA and a record of perfect attendance, you may think that Carrick Younkin, Arizona Culinary Institute’s April 2015 Student of the Month is the perfect student. But it wasn’t that long ago that this Irish lad with a distinctive moniker was cutting classes and wondering what to do with his life while attending a university in Illinois. “I was bored and frustrated with my life, and I actually left school and moved back in with my parents,” recounts a humbled Younkin.

Younkin had worked in kitchens since he was a teenager, and was working late nights as a bartender when his girlfriend encouraged him to follow his passion for the culinary arts instead of attending a traditional college. The light-bulb went on for Younkin, and it just so turned out that Younkin’s girlfriend also had grandparents who lived in Fountain Hills, AZ – right down the road from Arizona Culinary Institute.

“We drove out west with our dog and attended a Saturday morning open house at ACI,” laughs Younkin. “I met Chef Santos Villarico and Admissions Representative, Leslie Idaspe and I knew immediately that I was going to enroll at ACI!” Younkin and his girlfriend soon found an apartment, and Younkin also found a job at the Fire Rock Country Club in Fountain Hills where he’ll perform his externship, and he is slated to graduate on December 5, 2015.“I can’t believe how fast my life has turned around,” relates Younkin. “The chefs are so cool here – and so talented.”

Younkin credits TV shows like CHOPPED and MASTER CHEF for inspiring him to attend cooking school.
“I know that they are sometimes cheesy, but I thought, I’d like to try that,” relates Younkin. This burgeoning chef lists Fettuccine Alfredo and Seared Scallops as his go-to dishes when guests are over, and credits his grandmother as his initial introduction into this world. “She’s the best cook I know, and at Thanksgiving, there would always be tables full with platters of food, including her amazing Pumpkin Roll with Cream Cheese filling,” reminisces Younkin.

As for the future, Younkin sees himself working as an Executive Chef, perhaps at a country club or hotel.
As for following your passion instead of following someone else’s plan for your life, Younkin imparts this advice:
“If you ever thought about culinary school, you should come and take a look at the very least. It changed my life.”