Shilene Patek, Arizona Culinary Institute’s September 2015 Student of the Month Makes a Brave Mid-Career Transition, Which Now Includes Cooking in Italy – and beyond ….

Sometimes the universe gives you a sign, and for Shilene Patek, Arizona Culinary Institute’s (ACI) September 2015 Student of the Month the messages came in waves. Patek was working as an account supervisor for an oil and gas company in Dallas, Texas when the company she was working for closed their offices due to the continuing plummet in oil prices. Next, her beloved grandmother, who lived in Scottsdale, AZ, passed away, and suddenly, Patek was confronted with her own mortality.
“I knew right then and there that I didn’t want to be sitting behind a desk for the rest of my life,” notes Patek.

Patek decided to return to Scottsdale where she could be close to her grandfather, who is now in an assisted living facility, and she could start a new life by enrolling at Arizona Culinary Institute.“I am now driven to do what I love, and ACI feels like such a family atmosphere – it’s where I thrive,” shares Patek. “All of the instructors want you to succeed, and I have gained so much knowledge so quickly.”

Patek also notes that she made connections with all of ACI’s instructors, but she especially credits Chef Mark Maccherola for his tutelage.“I probably thank him every day for setting me on my new path,” laughs Patek.

Patek loves pasta, so when ACI’s Bruce Sandground mentioned externship opportunities with Chef Lorenzo Polegri, a James Beard award-winning chef and owner of the famous Zeppelin Restaurant in Orvieto, Italy, Patek jumped at the chance.
“I am so pumped to work in Italy!” shouts a joyous Patek. Patek will formally graduate from ACI next year after she returns from Italy, and she’ll probably return to Texas where she plans on working as a personal chef, or opening a Bed and Breakfast with her sister.“I now realize that along with cooking, I also love mingling with people and entertaining, so catering or working in the B&B niche would be perfect for me,” notes Patek.

Patek credits the Sonnenhof Bed & Breakfast in Estes Park, CO for inspiring her future plans.