Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community member Antonio Briones, 19, has chosen cooking as his career and has been attending the Classic Cooking Academy in Scottsdale.
The academy is designed with three very important factors in mind: classic French techniques, Native American ingredients and the student.
Briones’ passion for culinary arts developed as a result of watching both his parents cook great food. He took it upon himself to learn more about cooking.
“At the school I help cook a daily menu for our whole facility, which is about 30 people,” said Briones.
Briones started attending the culinary school in September. “I like cooking, and I wanted to be a good cook like my parents and follow in their footsteps, so I am making a career out of it,” said Briones. “I try not to have a favorite dish because I have to be open-minded and know how to cook everything.”
Briones will complete his training this month, earning his certification. “It seems like a decent job to have and you will make a decent living—everyone always has to eat,” he said.
As for his future plans, Briones said he might like to work as a chef in another state or country once he gains more experience.
“I want to be a chef someday. My favorite dish that I made so far was
halibut on top of risotto,” shared Briones. He also enjoys making soups and stews.
He said the hardest thing he had to make in school was 100 pounds of gingerbread with a partner. The largest number of people he cooked for was 300 people during an open house where the culinary students prepared a three-course meal.
“Going to school has taught me the basics of knife skills, the different cuts of beef, and fine-dining settings. My next plan is to hopefully get a line [cook] job that will open up doors for me to expand,” said Briones.
When he was in the Community’s After-School Program as a
teen, Briones and the other youth took a field trip to Classic Cooking Academy. “I really found it interesting,” he said. “And then a couple of years ago I saw that school at a conference again, and I got information and started attending.
“Our chef taught us all about eating right and how to eat as healthy as possible, which I have been practicing. I have shed a lot of pounds,” said Briones. “I plan on cooking something very special for my sister and me every day when we get the chance.”
Briones is the current president of the Young River People’s Council.