Faith In Herself. Faith In The Process.
Stephanie Conde, Arizona Culinary Institute’s March 2015 Student of the Month, Has a Burning Desire to Succeed In the Culinary Arts and a Profound Belief In the Power of Intention Life has not been easy for Stephanie Conde, Arizona Culinary Institute’s March 2015 Student of the Month. Raised in Parker, AZ (30 miles south of Lake Havasu), Conde at the age of 14 moved in with her sister and brother-in-law in order to find a sense of stability.“I really consider them my parents,” smiles Conde. “They gave me structure and put God in my life. I give all glory to God – and it’s the reason I have succeeded. God opens the doors, but you have to walk through them.”
Conde quickly became the “head chef” in the household, not because she had to, but because cooking was something that she loved to do.“I watched a lot of Food Network shows, and I always wanted to learn more,” laughs Conde. “You can obviously cook anywhere, but I wanted to expand my knowledge and learn the art and science behind food and flavors, like why nutmeg makes things creamier.” Last year, at a cousin’s baby shower, Conde was put in charge of cooking 20 dishes plus dessert for over 100 guests, and suddenly, she could ignore here passion no longer. “Several people came up to me after the event and said: ‘You need to make this your profession,’” relates Conde.Conde went online and found Arizona Culinary Institute, and then, attended an Open House where one of the first people she met was Admissions Representative, Leslie Idaspe.
“Leslie really made me fall in love with ACI,” notes Conde. “I had a list of questions, and I told a friend before I went that if they can’t meet my expectations, I’ll just walk away,” adds Conde.Three months later, Conde would start school at Arizona Culinary Institute, but two more big hurdles still had to be jumped over: How to pay for her education? And where to stay while studying in Scottsdale? “I put it out there, and I believe,” says a confident Conde. “I’m determined to make great food that people love and enjoy.” Conde received a student loan and a family friend has provided a guest house where Conde stays while studying to be a Chef, and she is now slated to graduate on June 5.
“Stephanie is emotionally mature and it shows in her demeanor,” remarks Chef Jean-Marie Rigollet, Arizona Culinary Institute Chef instructor. “She’s very happy, and embraces every challenge and her overflowing positive energy will undoubtedly make an impact on the genuine food that she creates for her future customers.” For her externship, Conde has her sights set on possibly working for the Urban Farmer in Portland, Oregon, a country-chic restaurant managed by a chef friend of Arizona Culinary Institute’s Chef Christopher Wolf. Conde looks towards the future and possibly sees herself owning a food truck, so she can create food that people love, while also being true to herself. She also sees a lack of women in many kitchens, and she’s eager to continue fostering relationships with mentors who can help her be the chef she is meant to become. “Sometimes I’m nervous, especially the first time that I cooked in our du Jour Restaurant, but I have a thick skin – and I’m willing to learn,” adds Conde. “Chef Santos Villarico taught me so much, and gave me so much confidence that now, I feel like I can handle any situation.”