Gustavo Prado, the Executive Sous Chef of the White Sox Stadium in Chicago, is the second in command in the kitchen and says he came to this position after being a chef for 12 years at the prestigious Hyatt Hotel, employment that he obtained by recommendation of St. Augustine College after obtaining a Professional Cook Certification in June 2000.
“I feel proud to be the second in command in this prestigious place that has restaurants in almost every enclosed area of the stadium. Thanks to St. Augustine College I could achieve this, because they taught me what I know, they opened my eyes to knowledge and the doors to success. It was them who helped me obtain the job at the Hyatt Hotel, “said the renowned chef from Guanajuato, Mexico.
Gustavo says that in 1999 he was working for a Greek restaurant and one of his friends told him that if he studied at St. Augustine College, he would have better opportunities. “Thank God I followed his advice,” he said. “When I started at SAC, I was a line cook after having been a dishwasher for two years. I had learned to cook because I would stay three hours after my shift ended to be taught by the chef. After learning to cook, I was like many who thought they did not need to study Culinary Arts, because they believe that in restaurants the chef is their best teacher. Afterwards, I realized I was wrong because, for example, the chef taught me how to cook but never taught me to make a recipe or how to put together a budget for the food at a restaurant. All of that I was able to learned at SAC and I confirmed it the day I met with the chef of the Hyatt Hotel,” he says. “The chef asked me about my experience and names of salsas, cuts of vegetables, recipes, etc. After having me demonstrate my skills, he gave me the supervisor position.”
“I’ve been at the White Sox stadium for four years, and before at the Hyatt Hotel, I was one of the chefs, so I did not have any more opportunities to move up. Some friends informed me that the Levy Company was looking for a chef for the restaurants they manage within the White Sox, Cubs, Chicago Blackhawks stadiums, Arlington Park Race Track and the Ravinia Festival. I went to apply for the position for Executive Sous Chef and I was lucky as I was hired a week later,” he said. In 1982, the Levy Company was the pioneer in developing the concept to offer fine dining food in the old Comiskey Park (now the home of the Chicago White Sox). In 1985, they expanded their services to Wrigley Field and other stadiums and venues.
Gustavo arrived to the United States at the age 18 with a student visa to learn English. He then stayed and decided to look for employment. That is when he started to work in a Greek restaurant. “What I’ve noticed is that if you put love into your cooking, everything tastes better, and I’ve proven that. SAC taught me all of that and I am very grateful for my professors: Rafael Pérez and Juanita Cruz, from whom I learned a lot,” he said.
“My dream is to open my own Mexican food restaurant with my wife, who is also a chef. I also want to teach the new generation of students to cook with love,” he shared. “My advice to those working in the kitchens of restaurants is to study Culinary Arts; they will have a great advantage because they now have the skills and they only need the knowledge. Those who do not work in restaurants, do not worry, you will leave very well-prepared from SAC, since one of the things I liked was that we practiced our cooking every day”.
“I want to be able to teach all that I know, and I would love to do so at St. Augustine College, so I can be able to give back for everything they have done for me. It would be my way of thanking SAC, because of who I am now, I owe it to them,” he concluded.
Culinary Arts at SAC
Knowledge of the culinary arts is vital to many roles in the hospitality industry, including restaurants and hotels, and for other businesses providing food, such as hospitals, retirement homes and corporate cafeterias.
Students that complete our Associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts will be qualified to enter the food-service industry in mid-level positions, for example as line cooks, first cooks and sub-chefs. This course is ideal for those who wish to gain theoretical and practical skills in the culinary arts, and wish to seek employment in a related field directly after graduation, or intend to open a restaurant or other related business.
Graduates will have an understanding of:
•Culinary techniques, procedures, styles and services
•Basic and advanced food preparation techniques
•Safe food, equipment and tool handling
•How to determine standardized recipe and menu costing
by Eduardo Alegria
Translation to English: Johanna Castro