Even in the field of the culinary arts, there’s something about learning on the job that can open the door to getting hired more quickly. Just ask CASA graduate Francisco Ahn, who got hired by mentor Chef Ken Takayama to work at Mélisse, a world-renowned fine dining restaurant in L.A., within a month of starting his externship!
“I was looking at Le Cordon Bleu,” he says, “and I was looking into the other culinary programs, but the price was pretty high. And then when I fell upon CASA…the price was a lot cheaper, and we got to get real experience in the restaurant. And so what drew me was the experience in the restaurant and I thought that that could help me get a job.”
That expectation definitely paid off.
“Chef Ken saw that I did my tests really fast,” says Francisco, “and so he asked me if I wanted to work at Mélisse a month in…He put me in the morning prep job.”
It gets even better. Before he had even completed his externship on the job at Mélisse, Francisco was approached by Chef Ken again, who offered him a promotion as a chef garde manger, or pantry chef!
“He said that for my experience I was one of the top,” says Francisco. “They needed someone to fill in the garde manger position, and so he said that he could get someone else, but he wanted to go with me.”
Now graduated from the program, Francisco continues to move forward with his career. His work experience at Mélisse continues to serve him well, enabling him to get hired on at Terranea, an oceanfront resort in Palos Verdes, close to where he lives. He credits CASA and his experience with Chef Ken with putting him on the fast track to a career in fine dining.
“They taught me everything I needed,” says Francisco. “It gave me a good first-hand experience of how a top-notch restaurant works…it gave me a certain expectation of how things should be done, and that things should be done in a certain way to bring out the best results…You work with a lot of top-tier chefs, so it helps you, it pushes you to do better.”