By Emily G. Peters
Cooking well easily qualifies as a universally useful skill—but not everyone feels comfortable in the kitchen. That’s why culinary icons like Anthony Bourdain have championed the idea that learning to cook should be required in school. After all, wouldn’t everyone benefit from mastering the basics of creating a healthy (and tasty) meal? Sauté Culinary Academy is bringing that idea to life.
The Monrovia-based cooking school was founded in 2012 by Chef Alexander Reyes and his wife Lisa to support their catering business. They quickly saw a bigger opportunity.
“There was a need for cooking classes in the area,” said Reyes, who with Lisa invested their life savings to build a bigger kitchen in 2014 to support their growth. “We started with a basic Italian class, then added everything from Mediterranean, French, Thai, Spanish tapas, Korean, Cuban and many more.”
Reyes is no stranger to the Los Angeles culinary scene, grinding it out for years in kitchens from Mi Piace to the Ritz. When he accepted a role as chef instructor at Le Cordon Bleu, his culinary calling came into focus.
“I would not only teach students, but mentor them from the classroom to their first job in the industry,” said Reyes. It was the experience he needed to fuel the fires in his own kitchen. “Whether you’re taking a class for fun or to find gainful employment, nothing gives me more joy than to teach anyone who wants my help.”
The academy’s services are wonderfully diverse. Adults don aprons for a delicious date night or a private team-building cooking class. Miniature chefs take part in kids’ classes and seasonal cooking camps, where they learn to build an entire meal from start to finish. From sushi to sauces to gluten-free cuisine—there’s little this institution can’t serve up for the home cook.
Yet don’t take the term “Academy” lightly. Reyes and his team of professional chefs are serious about equipping the next generation of culinary leaders. Their eight-week, semi-professional program is tailored for those seeking foundational techniques as budding chefs. Career-centric students can sharpen their skills with 18-week professional programs in either culinary arts or baking and pastry. Graduates from the professional programs leave armed with a certificate and the skills to secure employment as a qualified chef.
The recipe for success seems to be working. The academy was nominated for Monrovia’s 2016 Business of the Year, and the team hopes to expand their location in 2018. Despite the constant challenge to get the word out about the business, Reyes still believes in the power of sharing a meal with your neighbors.
“Monrovia is home,” said the chef. “We live in Monrovia, we worship in Monrovia, our kids go to schools in Monrovia. We dreamed of building a business that people would find valuable and unique to the community. We love Monrovia and aren’t going anywhere as long as Monrovia will have us.”
Sauté Culinary Academy is located at 150 E. Colorado Blvd. in Monrovia. Grab your apron and sign up for one of their many cooking classes and programs at www.sauteacademy.com | 626.429.2323 | firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow them on Twitter @SauteAcademy and Facebook @SauteCulinaryAcademy.