Lovin' from the Oven: Itzel Gonzales and her Award-Winning Muffins
Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Itzel Gonzalez, an energetic, well-spoken, passionate young woman happy to share her story and her culinary experience with me during her last week before summer break.
Itzel, it’s such a pleasure meeting you. I understand you are a junior at Apple Valley High School. Can you tell me which CTE program you are in?
Yes. I am in the culinary cooking class.
What motivated you to jump into the culinary arts programs at AVHS?
Well, I really like to bake and cook. I have baked with my mom and dad for a long time and really enjoy working together in the kitchen. And I’ve always enjoyed making blueberry muffins, which are my dad’s favorite. I like to keep trying to get better and better and this class has helped me do that.
I get to work with your mom, Belen Colon, quite a bit. Would you say that you’re a better cook than her now that you’ve been through this class.
(Enthusiastic nod after a glance across the room at her mother) Yes, I think so.
I thought you might be. We won’t tell her. So besides culinary skills, what have you gotten out of this experience?
I had a mock interview recently with the idea of opening my own bakery. The interview went really well because of this class. I like culinary studies. I own it and my family is all really happy for me.
How have you applied what you’ve learned in CTE to your daily life?
My skills in the kitchen have gotten better and my dad wants to teach me more. He teaches me about steak, lobster, everything. He helps me cook at home and to keep learning and practicing.
Where do you hope this leads? What’s the dream?
I would like to be a baker for my whole family. I have family in Texas and in Boston. I would like to share my food with them. I make really good cookies and muffins.
I bet you do. This interview is giving me a sweet tooth. So I hear you did pretty well at a competition earlier this year. Can you tell me about that?
I competed in Skills USA and demonstrated how to make Blueberry Muffins to a panel of judges. I wasn’t really nervous - I owned my food, was brave, and looked at the judges when it was my turn. I want to do it again! I took 1st place at the regional competition in January and then took 2nd at state in April.
What’s the best part of your CTE program?
I get to learn about cooking and I get to keep practicing. I’m able to show my family and I know they are proud of me. I will be taking more culinary classes next year.
What’s next for you after high school?
I really want to work in a daycare for babies. I know that I could bake for the daycare and I would enjoy helping the little kids.
And what’s next for you after this week? I bet you’re looking forward to summer break.
I am. We are going to travel and have a family reunion. I hope to bake for everyone and will have fun seeing everybody.
What do you think you’ll make for them?
Maybe some blueberry muffins.