Eat, work, study
Historic upscale Mexican restaurant cooks up collaboration with Austin Community College
It's never too soon to get started in the restaurant business, as proven again and again in family restaurants, school programs, and many high schoolers' résumés. Until recently, Austin Community College had a more insular Culinary Arts Department, but a unique new partnership with upscale Mexican restaurant Fonda San Miguel is about to change that: The landmark "career scholar agreement" honors the late Mexican cookbook author and friend of the restaurant Diana Kennedy, as well as the late executive chef Miguel Ravago.
“Miguel was the first chef to introduce true interior Mexican food to Austin when he arrived here in 1962. Naming the scholarships after both Diana and Miguel will continue their lifetime legacies of sharing knowledge and elevating true Mexican food to its deserved place at the top of culinary achievements," said Fonda San Miguel owner Tom Gilliland in a press release. “This is just the start of our collaboration with ACC students to become future leaders in the culinary world and to build Austin’s continued reputation as a national culinary destination.”
As in any other internship, this program allows culinary students to gain field experience while continuing studies, but is unusual in that it is only tied to the one restaurant so far. Students must apply to be accepted into the scholarship program, seeded by a check for $10,000 from Gilliland to the ACC Foundation, which provides "scholarships, training equipment, and student support."
Scholarship recipients will be on-site at Fonda San Miguel for up to 20 hours per week, and will be instructed and mentored by Fonda San Miguel co-chefs Carlos Monroy and Blanca Zesati.
The announcement took place at the nearly 50-year-old restaurant on Monday, January 16, and was attended by ACC and Fonda San Miguel staff, students, and two visiting chefs from the Yucatán region of Mexico. The restaurant has been lauded in almost every local publication, as well as the Travel Channel, the Wall Street Journal, and Forbes.
ACC's spring semester began on January 17. The culinary school offers associate of applied science degrees in culinary arts and baking and pastry, with entrepreneurship specializations in each, as well as one Level 2 certificate for each category. The entrepreneurship curriculum recently added a category in sustainable farming. More information about the culinary program is available at austincc.edu.