Kenneth Chu, Arizona Culinary Institute’s January 2015 Student of the Month, can’t remember a time he wasn’t in a restaurant.
Raised in Tucson, his grandparents ran the Dragon’s Palace, and from an early age, he was surrounded by family members who were dedicated to making traditional Chinese food from scratch, lovingly modified to conform to the American palette.
“My grandmother, Ruby, would always cook our home meals,” recalls Mr. Chu. “She’d make doughy pot stickers with pork sausage, onions, chives, and a little salt and pepper and I always wanted to cook with her.”
By the age of 14, Mr. Chu was paying his dues as a dish boy, sweeping and mopping the floors, but he quickly advanced, and by 16, he was cooking with a wok, practicing the special skill for hours on end.
After high school, however, his grandparent’s sold the restaurant, and Mr. Chu made a brief detour, and entered community college, thinking that he may become a pharmaceutical technician.
The urge to cook and create, however, never left his mind, and he soon found himself at the Tucson Country Club where he quickly rose from food runner, to expediter to Garmache Chef.
“Kenneth Foy, the executive chef at the Tucson Country Club was really a mentor to me and encouraged me to follow my dreams,” confides Mr. Chu. “Another team member, Kimberly Robertson, told me about Arizona Culinary Institute, and suddenly, my path was clear. I found a chance to complete my education, and actually do what I love.”
At ACI, he has excelled, and he has found a new mentor in Chef Philip Sayre, one of ACI’s elite chef instructors.
“I can close my eyes and hear Chef Sayre say, ‘Strive for perfection, and achieve excellence,’ smiles Chu.
“If I had to describe Kenneth Chu in one word, it would be ‘exuberance,’ remarks Arizona Culinary Institute’s Chef Philip Sayre. “His passion and zest for the culinary arts are second to none, and he’s so pleasant and fun to be around. His passion for this industry can only benefit those around him.”
He is slated to graduate in June of this year, and he’ll be performing his externship at the prestigious Phoenician Resort.
Editor’s note: Mr. Murnin is the public relations director for the Arizona Culinary Institute
Mr. Murnin is the public relations director for the Arizona Culinary Institute