EVOLVE (Culinary, Hospitality, and Tourism)
We’ve got some fresh new talent doing some things I know you haven’t heard before. One. Two. Three. Listen. [Music] You are here. This is your world. Who will you be in it? How will you impact your family...your community...your world? It’s your time to evolve.
[Music] So what’s next? Now? For you? Explore! [Music] Get cooking in the kitchen... Not just any kitchen! There’s a NEW world welcoming you. Your next journey might just be on your block. You are here! How far will you go with just a high school diploma? How much father could you go with a certificate or a degree from a California Community College? Have you ever heard of dual enrollment? Ha Ha! You can attend high school AND a community college at the same time! But I know, I know… You’re here.
You’re wondering how to get there. There is a simple way to get there. CULINARY. Ingredients transform in front of your eyes. A California Community College can do the
same for your raw talent and your fresh mind. Community College, I like to think about it is like a really big table and everyone’s invited to the table. So only in a community college can you be elbow to elbow stirring soup with someone from a country you did not even know existed before you took the class. Maybe a co-worker that you work at the same company you’d never met each other or maybe someone that’s actually your neighbor.
I never know who is going to show up the first night. So the first night it’s like who are my students this time around and they’ve always been amazing. In one class I had the editor of a major newspaper. I had a mom who had sleeping kids at home that were staying there with their dad while she came. This is her first leaving the house and doing something for herself. I had an executive from a big company who had never even made toast for themselves before. And all of these people are sitting around the same table and we’re all stirring our pots of soup, you know, together at the stove.
I’m a people person, for sure. I love talking to people. I love meeting people and being connected with people to share stories, learn about their culture, I have been on worldwide culinary adventures for about 5 years now and I have traveled to 35 countries and I am always exploring new flavorful recipes and fresh cooking methods. I’m originally from Vietnam. I was an international student when I first moved to the United States. Many people suggested that I should do 2 years at community college and then transfer to a university for another 2 years. In that case I would pay a lot less money.
For me, it was such a deal and I was super excited, you know. Throughout my whole family, like I was the first to attend college. At the beginning when I was thinking about it, I was like, oh, it’s not going to be fun at all since it’s 100% virtual and it’s like not in-person class. So I thought it was going to be boring at first, but then when we started class, basically my mind changed. Like, it was really, actually fun and that brought me into like a peace and I was in my zone and very comfortable with doing this class and it’s like, oh, it was more fun than I expected it to be. So I graduated with a few Associates degrees such as Social Behavioral Science, Business Management, Restaurant Management, and Culinary Arts.
A lot of my friends are very, very jealous about it because it's like it’s not just a class. It’s like it helps. It’s good for your transcript and it gives you college credits and it’s like you’re actually considered a college student which is actually pretty fun. We basically just use the laptop. I put it in my kitchen and basically we come into the virtual class and we basically get all of our ingredients and our chefs just puts the recipe on the laptop and we just follow her step by step.
So I’ve been doing this my whole life. When I was 5 my parents got me an Easy-Bake Oven for Christmas and I started baking little cakes for all of my dolls and my toys and my siblings, and I kind of just took off from there. So my first job out of culinary school I worked as an Assistant Pastry Chef at a Hyatt Resort and I was there for 2-weeks before the Head Pastry Chef went out for hand surgery and she was supposed to be gone for 2-weeks and she didn’t come back two and a half years. So I became the Head Pastry Chef of a resort, a restaurant, and a banquet facility at age 19. I looked at it as like culinary school Part B where they actually trusted me enough to give me all of these things and I learned a ton in that job. Like my parents always say, it doesn’t matter what you do, just do what you love and go to college and make a good career path.
It’s not the highest paying job in the world but it’s never been about that. I think it’s the most life-giving and there were moments in my life where I left and I thought, I think I should pay you for this one because what I got out of it was so good. I found myself most satisfied when my food makes people happy and that fulfills my life. And that feeling gives me so much energy and happiness to keep moving forward. If I didn’t go to community college, I would probably be in Vietnam right now and just still wondering what I’m good at and what my career goal is. I have so much energy and I need to move and I need to do something.
I need to get out of my house. So there’s no way I can work in a cubicle box and having a computer in my face for 8 hours and sitting there for 8 hours and missing food and drinking, you know. Like all this stuff. Like it probably won’t last that long. In a kitchen, especially on TV, you see lots of ego and lots of you know, bravado and whatever, but I think my favorite chefs in the whole world that I’ve worked for are incredibly hard working, tenderhearted, compassionate, humble people.
It’s actually very fun to work in the kitchen with the team. I used to be the only female chef in the kitchen and surrounded with all men. And you know, the language in the kitchen. You know, they’re loud, and they’re very aggressive, and it’s just super funny like how I can deal with that and everyone gives me a lot of respect actually. College students, hearing their stories like how they work in the industries? That makes me think one day I want to be there with them and being there to explain my story.
We really take care of each other in the kitchen but you have to have passion for it. I think to be able to stay in this industry and move forward. After high school I plan to go to either community college or a Cal State and continue my career path of the culinary arts industry and I do want to be THAT chef that you know other professional chefs in to see how good my food tastes.
I want to expand my name and title through word of mouth. I’m very glad to serve and cook for many local residents and I want to create a life here in America having a small business and family. There’s so much tension in our world and there’s so much strife in our world and I would love to create opportunities where there can just be a beautiful table with delicious food where people can just sit down and realize that they’re neighbors and they can break bread together. In a lot of my classes, because my students are from all over the world, different ages, and yet we come together, we cook together, as a family, and we sit down and have a family dinner at the end of my classes and some amazing conversations have happened at that table. And that gives me hope for the world. HOSPITALITY. Are you ready to step forward? Relax.
Get comfy. That’s what hospitality is all about. My first job in the industry was a Human Resources Coordinator for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. I started at that role at $13.25 an hour. Obviously, we all need money to survive, but if you’re in it for the money then this is probably gonna be a wrong industry to be in.
But if you’re in it because you’re passionate about helping people and you want to have fun while you’re doing it, then this is the right place for you. I’ve been with Hyatt for a little bit over 10 years. This is my sixth position; my 16th hotel, and my 3rd city. So usually in my country it’s not that easy to start from scratch and get into the middle or top manager position just in 3 to 4 years but I was quite fortunate that I first got the opportunity to work in a 5-Star hotel in my country. Then I got the scholarship, moved to one of the best places on the face of the earth: California, of course and I was fortunate enough to be employed in Hilton - one of the best Hotels in the world. And then when I came to China I served in
a luxury span of Hitlon, again - Conrad Beijing. So it was not very easy for me but it is something I wanted to be at. I wanted to grow myself so that I can inspire others, so that they don’t lose hope and they see that if this guy can do it, that also we can do it.
We can train someone how to check someone in. We can train someone how to do beds. We can train someone how to hold a tray. But what we can’t train is how to genuinely care for others so they could be their best. What I always, always looked for was personality.
So I learned to be patient. I think it’s kind of, it’s kind of hospitality is something which grooms you for everything. You get more empathetic. You get more patient and when you feel like somebody is giving good feedback that shows that: are you doing the right thing? Or not! So that’s something I really learned and enjoyed in my career as hospitality.
And then with the combination of different experiences, not just only working in the hospitality sector, but also being able to travel and meet with people, it helped me to grow further; not just professionally but also personally. I was 14-years-old when I had my baby and I knew that I had to continue education for myself and for my son. I took my son, diaper bag, and backpack, and city bus to go and finish getting my high school credits. Then I got my AA in sociology because I wanted - I thought I wanted to be a social worker and then continue on my education where I obtained my Bachlors in Business Management. So I want to bring that element of professional hospitality to my country and prepare such a force that can bring back the old and beautiful image of my country which it was back in the 70’s and 80’s. Above all I want to help my people which are underprivileged, who don’t have the access to go to other countries enjoy what I have enjoyed, but leave what I have left. So it’s my goal to open such a chain of
hotels where people from other countries move and see what this beautiful country, what people of this country has to offer. The advice that I would give anyone who is exploring a career in hospitality is be humble and be willing to learn. You can grow to become a Director of Ops. You can grow to become a Director of Human Resources and it’s ultimately up to you what you want to do with your career. You don’t necessarily need to have the experience but have the right personality and be willing to learn so that you can grow within the industry like I did. Even though you're still here. A California Community College can help you get there. We got you!
You’re ready to venture out of your comfort zone. [Music] Tourism and travel in the U.S. is a billion dollar industry. It’s a trillion dollar industry, globally.
What attracted me to tourism was I - I enjoy traveling. Not just abroad or out of state, but within the state of California and for me it’s being on the other side of it now. It’s kind of cool to have people coming to your area and you kind of show them around. You get to give them different ideas of things to do; things they may not have thought of. You really become their encyclopedia for the area. The reason I started the Sonoma County Experience was to give people a new way to visit Sonoma County and wine country.
When people visit, you become their point of contact. You also might give their trip the extra element it needs where they may not have thought of it. They may not know the area that well. There may be a restaurant in the area that they wanted to try or they didn’t know about and that you sent it to them that makes their trip. My first hospitality job was catering weddings, private events.
It was about $18 an hour and back then, it was awesome because as a junior college student, it was a great way to make extra money and kept flexible hours. So what went into my decision to attend community college was the cost, it being affordable as well as being able to extend my athletic career. Yeah, I played basketball and the position I played was the point guard and the shooting guard, but what I enjoyed about it too, it’s that you are a leader, right, so you’re gonna have the ball in your hands. You have to make the decisions and a big part
of it is putting people in the positions to be successful. So knowing who to give the ball to and when, but also you know, knowing the plays inside and out so who’s supposed to do what when because sometimes they may forget so you can direct them - direct traffic. Leadership’s very important in tourism. You’re having to really take the reins for the day and they’re putting their trust in you, so in a way, you’re leading them by making sure they have a great time, making sure they have everything they need, and that they’re getting that experience they want. For me, founding my own company was something that I wanted to do and I thought tourism, where we live, was a great opportunity because being close to San Francisco - a huge tourism market, it was a huge plus. The personality traits that make for a good
tourism professional are someone that’s punctual, on time, that’s a great communicator, not just with the guests, but also again, the places you’re going to be visiting. And then, being able to work on a team but also adjust - make adjustments on the fly as needed, whether it’s weather, whether it’s someone being closed, or it may be that your guests or the people you’re hosting are looking to do something different. My ultimate career goal is to run a successful company that is able to employ people. For someone that’s on the fence or if I could give an 18-year-old any advice: if you like traveling, it’s a no brainer. Culinary, tourism, hospitality - it’s a great way to sharpen your skills, not just professionally, but also personally as far as your communication, building relationships, maintaining relationships, and it really keeps you sharp. One day, you will say you were here. Where are you going?
And what will the rest of your story be? A California Community College can change your life! There are 28 California Community Colleges near the Bay to choose from. [Music] Don't want to stay in the area? Look, there are another 87 Community Colleges in California. 115 in total. [Music] What are you waiting for? YOUR TIME TO EVOLVE IS NOW! [Music]