Student & Graduate Success Stories

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Culinary Skills & Saying Yes to Opportunity Leads to Multiple Job Offers From Famous Chefs

When Justin Zhao started CASA's Gourmet Chef Program, he was hoping he'd made the right choice, considering he'd just decided the business degree he'd been working on left him feeling uninspired. CASA's hands-on approach appealed to him, as did the all-inclusive tuition. Nevertheless, when Justin arrived to interview with his potential mentor his nerves nearly got the best of him. Justin's actual culinary knowledge was limited, and he had zero knife skills. His love of food had come from watching chefs like Gordon Ramsay and Tim Hollingsworth on television. Would it be enough? Read more.

How Joey Mendes Went From Warehouse Job to Culinary Career in Months

When Joey Mendes of Chino, California, reached out to CASA for culinary arts training, he had little more than a newfound love of cooking. He'd discovered it after he'd left home and moved in with roommates. Soon, he'd found himself manning the stove. Prior to that, a career in food had never crossed his mind. Working fulltime at a warehouse was showing him just how exhausting and draining working solely for a paycheck could be. The sooner he could make a change, the better.

Click here to find out how Joey got the training and insight he needed to lauch his culinary career in months!

From Laid Off to Expanding His Horizons: Cody Woodside Gets Chops Fast!

When television producer Cody Woodside got laid off due to a merger, he realized he'd been wanting to make a change in his life. Rather than rushing off to find another job, Cody found himself spending a lot of time in the kitchen. Food had always been something he loved. He started looking into culinary programs, and found that CASA's immersive externship approach really drew him in. So who would be the chef to mentor Cody? Kristin Beringson, who had appeared on Chopped, that's who! Read more.

How Jonathan Shahandeh Got Trained & Hired at a Michelin-Starred Restaurant

In late 2020, during the pandemic, Jonathan Shahandeh decided it was time to change careers and finally invest in taking his passion for cooking seriously. Seven months after starting the CASA Gourmet Chef Program, Jonathan was hired onto the team as garde manger at Scratch Restaurants’ upscale, contemporary Pasta|Bar in Los Angeles. Just a few months after that, Pasta|Bar won its first Michelin star. The Michelin Guide says the contemporary tasting-menu-only restaurant “is one for the books” and calls their caprese “exalted” and the visionary chef staff “wonderfully engaging.” We connected with the recent grad to learn more about his CASA experiences and hands-on training at Scratch restaurants, get the lowdown on Pasta|Bar winning the coveted Michelin star, and more, so read on!