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My Return to Culinary School

It’s been 8 years since I’ve graduated culinary school but it honestly feels like that time has flown by. After graduating with my bachelor’s in business, I always knew I wanted to go to the Culinary Institute of America, and low and behold, the timing was just right that they had opened the San Antonio campus. At the time I was there, they only had the 1 year program so I did end up going up to Hyde Park to finish the second year and get my associates. A few months ago I got an exciting call, asking if I would be the guest chef at the school’s restaurant, NAO. What was even more exciting was that the CIA was celebrating 10 years in San Antonio and it was an anniversary year.

I quickly said yes, but then had to get to work on developing a menu, decor, prep lists and so much more. I will have to say, the team at the CIA is the best and so easy to work with. It really took an entire team of people to make everything come together.

When people walked into Nao Restaurant they were greeted with brightly colored papel picado and a welcome cocktail by one of our sponsors, Patron. People noshed on mini brisket empanadas served with an avocado crema.

My sister’s company, Wide Awake Creative, sponsored a photo wall draped in marigold garlands and the photobooth that comes along with it. They also designed these miniature cookbooks that told our brand story, the menu for the evening and my bio.

The first course was a a crepe filled with huitlacoche, Mexican corn truffle and topped with a creamy butternut and chipotle sauce.

The next course was an ode to our San Antonio history and the Chili Queens who were a major part of our local gastronomy. We had a blue masa huarache topped with chili con carne and a pickled nopal salad.

The main course was our family recipe, Mole Manchamantel, literally meaning to stain a tablecloth, we topped a sous vide chicken breast, a chorizo refried beans, and white rice.

The final course was a ghirardelli chocolate tres leches topped with meringue and some gorgeous handmade sprinkles by an online shop I found called Mexi-Sprinkles.

Each course came out beautifully and was paired with either a wine from Mexico or our wine sponsor, Kendall Jackson. The night was full of color, vibrant flavors and wonderful conversation. I couldn’t have asked for more coming back to my alma mater.

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