By Amanda Sotelo, TSTC Staff
Culinary Arts students at Texas State Technical College learned how to cook traditional Mexican cuisine — from caldo de piedra, or stone soup, to mole chicatana, a sauce made with flying ants — in a special class taught by guest chef Oscar Carrizosa from Oaxaca, Mexico.
“This was an exciting moment for our program and our students,” said Emma Creps, a TSTC Culinary Arts instructor. “When we expose students to different cuisines and cultures, it broadens their scope and helps them better succeed as chefs in the long run.”
Carrizosa is the owner and chef at Casa Crespo in Oaxaca and was invited by the Consulate of Mexico in Brownsville and Mexican Consul Juan Carlos Cue Vega.
“As a consulate, we’re always looking for ways to bring cultures and traditions together,” said Cue Vega. “So when we had the opportunity of bringing a chef to our area, we thought there was no better place than to TSTC’s Culinary Arts program.”
Carrizosa said he accepted the invitation excitedly because he knew this would be an opportunity to promote the beauty and cuisine of his country while passing along recipes to new generations.
He added that he is impressed with the engagement, enthusiasm and willingness to learn displayed by TSTC’s Culinary Arts students.
“We have to support and train the up-and-coming chefs in our industry,” he said. “In Oaxaca, learning these recipes goes from generation to generation. But sometimes there’s a gap, and knowing that these students are interested in learning motivates me.”
In the TSTC Culinary Arts kitchen, he introduced students to different variations of mole, a traditional marinade and sauce used in Mexican cuisine, as well as salsas, tortillas and soups.
He guided a kitchen of culinary students in the techniques and processes used in Oaxaca to make these dishes.
Culinary Arts student Rosanna Lopez of Brownsville said she was excited to learn about Carrizosa’s visit.
“I’m a first-generation American. All of my family is from Mexico,” said the 24-year-old. “My goal has always been to learn how to cook and serve traditional Mexican cuisine, and having Mr. Carrizosa here has been an eye-opener. I learned so much from him.”
Creps and Cue Vega agree that opportunities like these need to continue in the future between both organizations.
“I’m impressed with the campus, its instructors and students and their professionalism,” said Cue Vega. “I hope we can find other projects and visits in the future we can collaborate on. This one has been a success.”
“I am grateful that our students were given this type of opportunity. It’s an unbelievable experience; it makes a great impact,” said Creps. “I hope to see collaborations like this in the future because it really does make a difference.”