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2014 February 17 - 12:00 am

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT: Ill. Student Aspires To Cook at Disney World

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (AP) — Harper College student Marisa Marquez’s dream job is to work in the kitchen of Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando.

AP Photo/Daily Herald, Joe Lewnard  

Harper College culinary student Marisa Marquez de-glazes her fry pan while making potatoes and chicken in the community college’s kitchen in Palatine, Ill. Marquez, 19, is in her final semester as culinary student in the Hospitality Management Program at the school.

Marquez, who describes herself as a “huge” Disney fan, has watched TV programs which show pastry chefs and cooks working in the Disney kitchen and hopes to tour the Grand Floridian kitchen sometime soon.

“I’ve heard it’s very nice in there, but also it’s very crazy, too,” Marquez said. “Disney is my passion.”

Marquez, 19, is in her final semester as culinary student in the Hospitality Management Program at the community college in Palatine. She is a Chicago native who now lives in Arlington Heights.

Marquez has a second dream, which is to have her own food service truck. Her dad owned one but experienced difficulty with the business and converted it into an ice cream truck.

The courses Marquez has enrolled in at Harper teach students how to manage a business as well as engage in food preparation, and she plans to use this knowledge to help relaunch the food truck business.

“We plan to do that as a family and open it back up,” Marquez said.

Marquez started cooking at home when she was a child under the supervision of her parents. She was 7 years old when she received her first children’s cookbook.

After that, she started preparing omelets and frittatas for her family, as well as other items featured in the cookbook. As she grew up, she took every possible consumer science and cooking class she could enroll in at school.

She explored the possibility of enrolling in the culinary arts school at Kendall College in Chicago after high school, but that option was too expensive. Instead, Marquez enrolled at Harper, and she is happy with her choice.

“I really love it here, it’s a really good school,” Marquez said.

She works under the guidance of professor and program coordinator Patrick Beach, instructor Beth O’Connell and her peers.

Marquez credits O’Connell with getting her to try new things.

“She showed me things that I would have never known, and taught me to try things that I would never try before,” Marquez said of O’Connell, while using Brussels sprouts as an example.

“I would never know how to cook them, or how to prepare them at all,” Marquez said. “Now I love them. They’re delectable.”

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