The Recipe for Success

Culinary Arts student


Joanna Pedraza Salgado was attending her Culinary Arts class for West-MEC at Estrella Mountain Community College when Ivan Jacobo, a restaurant owner, came in as a guest speaker for the program.

Jacobo owns Anhelo, meaning desire in Spanish, a contemporary American restaurant in downtown Phoenix. Following through on a new connection, Salgado was able to land a job in one of Phoenix’s finest restaurants.

“I spoke to three classes. She was the only one out of those classes that decided to come and check Anhelo out,” said Jacobo. “That’s how we met Joanna, she just seemed so excited about the industry. You can teach someone to cook but you can’t teach someone to be excited about something.”

Salgado is undoubtedly passionate about the culinary industry and praises West-MEC for teaching her the skills and abilities to enter the workforce with the proper industry-focused training.

But the combination of her training and her attitude toward the culinary industry has been the perfect recipe for success. 

“We started off with baking and slowly moved up to things like cooking and knife skills,” said Salgado. “We also learned a lot about food preparation, techniques and different terms. A lot of what I learned at West-MEC I’ve been able to apply here.”

Salgado is gaining invaluable experience at Anhelo, but throughout it all, baking remains her true passion and what she loves most within the culinary world. 

“I want to be a pastry chef. I have very fond memories of the baking courses at West-MEC,” said Salgado. “I learned how to make bread and improve it and make the dough. I had a blast with that I thought it was really fun.”

Whether she follows her pastry dreams or continues with the fine-dining route like at Anhelo, Salgado will find success no matter what road she goes down. Her drive and technical skills are second to none, which is what you need to make it in the culinary industry.

“I think the cool thing is that they already have a taste for the industry at such a young age at West-MEC and they are very excited at that point,” said Jacobo. “Everything else doesn’t matter, because at least we know they’re excited and this is something they want to be a part of.”

Salgado is an exemplary example of just that.