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Some amazing student chefs have come through Spokane Community College and the Inland Northwest Culinary Academy.

We met with some of them this year to talk about where their careers have taken them!

Meet Michelle!

Michelle started SCC’s Inland Northwest Culinary Academy in 2017. An international student from Hong Kong, she chose SCC because it was the most affordable culinary program, even when she looked nationally. Just as important, the INCA program focuses on all aspects of the restaurant industry, from cooking technique and menu-planning to food costing and customer interaction.

“Those skills helped me during my Pop-Up Dinner Event at Feast World Kitchen,” Michelle explained. “I had to convert recipes and purchase food based on how many people I would be serving.”

During Michelle’s time in the program and until right after graduation, she worked as a Banquet and Dessert Cook at the Historic Davenport and the Davenport Grand. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many of the staff were laid off.

As she looked for new opportunities, Michelle’s friend mentioned Feast World Kitchen.

“It’s a great place for immigrants and refugees to share their cultural cuisines with the public,” Michelle said.

She cooks at Feast World Kitchen once a month and is a seasonal baker in town at Rind and Wheat. She’s also a hostess at the Park Lodge Restaurant.

Her work at Feast World Kitchen requires her to plan a menu from top to bottom, costing out the ingredients and setting the menu price. It’s a good call-back to the skills she learned at SCC.

Michelle’s work is keeping her busy, but someday she hopes to start her own business. She dreams of owning a café that serves good pastries, tea and coffee. But for now, she’s enjoying the creativity of cooking in each of her jobs.

Michelle Ho attended SCC’s Inland Northwest Culinary Academy from 2016-2017. She is currently working on several culinary projects and is a chef at Feast World Kitchen.

Meet Cynthia!

“I just love everything about food and sharing that knowledge.”

Cynthia Monroe loves teaching people about cooking as much as she loves being a chef. For her, the two are intertwined and always will be.

It’s what she loves about her current work.

“I get the privilege every day to pass on my passion and knowledge of food to the next generation of cooks and foodies!”

Cynthia is currently a Culinary Instructor at NEWTech Skill Center and a Traveling Chef Coordinator with the ACF (American Culinary Federation) for conventions.

Students at graduationAs a Culinary Instructor, Cynthia has two daily sessions where students from 16 different schools learn kitchen duties and work in small groups, focusing on production, lessons, and skill drills. They work a monthly menu that would normally serve a restaurant, coffee shop, and catering business. During the pandemic, the menu is sold for take-out instead.

Cynthia gets how important the lessons are that students learn, and how those lessons can offer lifetime opportunities. When she was a student, she volunteered for everything, even our SipSwirl&Savor gala! And one opportunity led to a future job.

“When the ACF came to Coeur d’Alene, I rented a cheap motel and was the first volunteer there every day,” Cynthia explained. “That one volunteer opportunity turned into a national office commitment that I still do to this day.”

Right now, she has a great balance of cooking and teaching in her work, and she hopes to continue that someday at her own farm and dinner spot. One of Cynthia’s dreams is to own 10 acres, half to farm outdoors and half for a year-round indoor nursery.

“I would love for it to be an extension learning for the school or anyone really,” she said. “I went to the Vegetable Institute in Ohio and it made me want to replicate it ever since!”

Cynthia Monroe attended SCC’s Inland Northwest Culinary Academy from 2012-2014. She’s currently a Traveling Chef Coordinator with the ACF and a Culinary Instructor at NEWTech Skills Center here in Spokane, WA.

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