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remington college culinary program chef rivera


Meet Chef Fabian Rivera: My Culinary Journey from Texas to the Culinary Institute

By Remington College: Posted April 10th, 2024

Tell me a little bit about yourself, your background, education, where you worked, and all that good stuff

For me, starting in the culinary world began with a high school program near Remington College in League City, Texas. This early step led to significant opportunities, including working as a baker's assistant, my entry into professional cooking. My career path then took me through various roles within the culinary industry, from small local restaurants, an art institute and to larger corporate settings with Compass Group, Sodexo and OTG. I've tackled numerous jobs, from dishwashing to cooking and eventually managing teams, each offering valuable lessons and experiences.

Furthering my education, I attended the Art Institute of Houston, enriching my practical skills with formal training before the institution closed. This blend of education and real-world experience has been crucial to my development as a chef.

Among my experiences, working on the opening team for the ExxonMobil campus with Compass Group stands out, where I took on the role of lead baker. Another significant part of my journey was contributing to Wolfgang Puck's fine dining establishment, offering me insight into high-end culinary operations. Additionally, working with OTG to introduce the taste of Houston to travelers through Ember, a project by Chris Shepard at the airport, highlighted the importance of showcasing local flavors.

These experiences have taught me the value of hard work, continuous learning, and the ability to adapt to new challenges in the fast-paced culinary field.

Would you say your experience is similar to what other go-getters in the program can expect?

In this industry, experience reigns supreme. You can graduate from culinary school as the top student, but what truly speaks volumes is your ability to handle the heat, both literally and metaphorically. My journey, marked by versatility and a constant drive to learn, exemplifies the path forward for those eager to carve out a career in culinary arts. It's about putting in the work, embracing various opportunities, and always being ready to learn from each experience.

How much emphasis does the program at Remington College place on hands-on learning and real-world experience?

Capturing the true essence of a bustling kitchen in a classroom is always a challenge. However, I firmly believe in focusing on the fundamentals of culinary arts, teaching the why and how behind each recipe. It's about laying a solid foundation that prepares students for any kitchen scenario, blending theoretical knowledge with practical skills to help they understand the culinary world.

What Essential Skills Do You Emphasize in Your Culinary Teaching?

Striking a balance between theoretical knowledge and practical skills is crucial, although replicating the full intensity of a restaurant kitchen's hustle and bustle is challenging. Understanding how recipes work, down to their core, is what I believe is most important. Whether it's a well-organized kitchen with standardized recipes or a more spontaneous cooking environment, the techniques, ways of doing things, and step-by-step instructions form the foundation of any culinary task.

I emphasize the basics such as braising, searing, simmering, and poaching, explaining not just the how but also the why. It's vital for students to feel comfortable in any kitchen they step into, to understand why a recipe is built a certain way, and to grasp the underlying principles behind cooking methods. These aren't just recipes; they're a collection of ideas and techniques developed over time. My goal is for students to follow these recipes, innovate, and understand the rationale behind them. While I can't mimic the exact pressure of a restaurant service, I can equip my students with the knowledge to navigate and understand the dynamics of any kitchen they find themselves in. This understanding, I believe, is essential for their growth and success in the culinary field.

Are there any current trends or technologies affecting the culinary world?

Integrating technology, from robotics in some parts of the world to tablets and automated systems closer to home, is reshaping our industry. Yet, the core of culinary creativity, the chef's touch, remains irreplaceable. Amidst technological advancements, dietary trends are also evolving, shifting towards healthier eating post-COVID. It reflects the growing awareness around food and wellness, which are crucial to understand and incorporate into our culinary practices.

When looking for a culinary program, what should a student consider?

Choosing the right program is about balancing hands-on learning and personalized instruction. It's important to seek out environments where you can learn from your mistakes, guided by experienced instructors who can share their knowledge and insights. For me, a program that offers close interaction and personal feedback is invaluable, as it not only helps you improve but also prepares you for the realities of the culinary industry.


For more information on Remington’s Culinary Programs, click here.