Nourishing job: TSTC Alumnus’ love for food brings him home

BY Amanda Sotelo

Harlingen native Randall Garcia has gone from student to employee at Texas State Technical College.

Garcia is TSTC’s recently hired Food Service Supervisor and in his short time at the college is making a major difference in the student cafeteria.

After earning his Associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts in Spring 2015, he immediately applied for his position at the college. He knew staying to work at TSTC is what he wanted to do.

“I’ve always known this kitchen to have a lot of potential,” said Garcia. “I used to work closely with the kitchen staff and now I’m here and I love it.”

Garcia has made numerous additions to the TSTC Café, such as a salad bar, an entrée of the day and a coffee shop. He said he also wants to add food kiosks that students, faculty and staff can enjoy throughout campus. His work has not gone unnoticed.

“Before Randall joined the café staff, Student Government Association was working to get healthier options and more variety on the menu,” said Cristal Lee Sanchez, SGA Secretary. “Since he started, he has changed the cafeteria for the better. We see more options and the food is delicious.”

Garcia’s first job in the food service industry came after graduating from Harlingen High School in 1993. He relocated to Austin and began working at a food service warehouse. Enjoying the pay and the perks that came with the job, he decided to forgo college and continue working.

He quickly realized there was a future for him in the food service business and he joined Ben E. Keith Company as a food sales representative for the next 12 years. The company moved him back home to Harlingen with a book of business clients which included TSTC.

“Being a salesman is a challenging job with monthly sales goals and numbers to meet, while still giving your customers a good price,” said Garcia. “After 12 years it was time for a change. I always knew I wanted an associate degree, so it was time to return to college.”

Garcia said TSTC’s Culinary Arts instructors gave him a deeper insight into the food industry, making the change from employee to student an easy transition.

“I wanted a degree, but I wanted to stay in the food industry and I was able to get that at TSTC,” Garcia said.

Returning to college full-time and not working was a challenge for Garcia. He did mention, however, that it was his wife, four children and mother who inspired and pushed him to continue working toward his degree.

“They were all always there for me, pushing and encouraging me,” said Garcia. “When I really found out I was making a difference was when my 14-year-old son told me he wanted to graduate from TSTC too.”

Keeping it in the family, Garcia’s 21-year-old son is currently attending TSTC studying Business Management Technology, while his 17-year-old son is looking into attending after graduating from high school, and his 14-year-old son is getting ready to start early college high school.

Garcia is also a volunteer basketball and baseball coach for his 14-year-old and nine year-old sons’ teams.

“I always tell my sons to never let anyone stop them from pursuing their education,” said Garcia. “I want them to start college early and not wait like I did, and actually this advice goes for anyone. Education is important and nowadays a must in order to get ahead.”

Garcia plans on returning to TSTC to pursue an associate degree in Business Management Technology in the near future.

TSTC offers Culinary Arts in Abilene, Waco and Williamson County. For more information locally, call 956-364-4755.

For more information Business Management Technology call 956-364-4658.