After graduating from Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet in 2013, Orlanda De' Paz earned a CRAEF scholarship to attend Cal Poly Pomona. She is currently studying Hospitality Management and working as a cook, barista and server at three different foodservice operations.
Who has been your biggest career influence?
My first culinary instructor. She always pushed me to do better and to hone my craft. She inspired me to be better at the art of baking and to follow my dreams no matter what obstacles come my way.
Who is your celebrity chef or restaurant idol?
I currently do not have a celebrity chef; a variety of the culinary-related shows I watch show everyday people, who have either started their own businesses or are competing in the latest cupcake war or donut show down. I love the fact that these individuals challenge themselves by thinking quick on their feet, and they must be creative instantaneously.
What is your signature dish?
My signature dish would have to be my apple spiced coffee cake.
What advice would you give to high school students interested in the hospitality and culinary industry?
Find out what you like most about the industry. During high school most people get involved in the culinary classes because they figure they can eat their work. Yet, there are so many elements that tie into the industry. Once you find your passion, or when your passion finds you, give it all you’ve got. Be sure to volunteer and know what you are getting yourself into - this becomes a lifestyle. One much worth living!
What advice would you have given to your high school self?
Always be prepared to network because the people you meet today can assist in shaping your world tomorrow. Also, pick your favorite dish to prepare because everyone will ask you what you prefer to prepare.
What made your ProStart experience unique?
Starting ProStart my senior year of high school, I did not know what to expect. It gave my teammates and a wonderful opportunity to feel what the industry had to offer first hand. Being a part of ProStart allows you to feel what is like to be a part of the hospitality industry before actually entering the industry.
How has ProStart given you that extra boost into entering the hospitality industry?
Being a part of ProStart gave me a boost because it allowed me to see that outside of culinary there is a large business aspect involved in the hospitality industry. Both culinary and business require team work, communication skills and practice; which are all skills that you are either introduced to or strengthen participating in ProStart.
How has CRAEF’s scholarship benefited you, if applicable?
Being a recipient of the CRAEF scholarship eliminates a portion of the financial hardship that college produces. Knowing that a scholarship you have worked for is coming once school starts reduces stress and allows opportunities that would otherwise be impossible. I am extremely grateful for being a CRAEF scholarship recipient.
alright, one last question: what would your last meal be?
Boil up. A Belizean staple dish packed with variety of culture, texture and flavor. All parts of the meal are provided boiled or grilled. Served with dumpling, red snapper, egg, onions, plantains, tomatoes, sweet peppers, yucca, cassava, and pig tail.