Tappan Zee High School senior Tatiana Guzman was featured on WNBC’s “Today in New York” this week as she and other Rockland BOCES Career and Technical Education Center (CTEC) Culinary Arts students prepared for the program’s second annual ChiliFest early Tuesday morning. Guzman and her partner won the competition with their Smoked Jalapeño Chili, which wowed the judges.
Guzman’s passion for cooking started with her family. She recalls peppering her grandfather with questions as a young child, as he taught her to cook. “I remember going into the kitchen with a pad and paper to take notes and he told me to put them down,” she noted. “He said, ‘You learn when you see.” Her favorite dish to prepare is lomito saltado, a Peruvian dish she cooks with her grandmother.
Guzman credits CTEC’s Culinary Arts program with “enlightening” her to what goes on behind the scenes of a restaurant. “When you’re in the kitchen, you have to know everything and be humble. You may have to jump in and help wash the dishes, bus tables or help out if a server is out,” she explained. “It gave me knowledge and respect for every position in the front and back of the house.”
As for next steps, Guzman is weighing her options: the award-winning, aspiring chef has already been accepted to both The Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales University. Meanwhile, she is headed to the ProStart Invitational at CIA in March as captain of the CTEC team.