In recognition of her 4.0 Grade Point Average, and perfect attendance, Arizona Culinary Institute proudly recognizes Julie Mitchell as its September 2014 Student of the Month. This honor is rarely bestowed upon a student who has only completed three courses, but Mitchell is a model culinary scholar with her eyes already firmly set on a December graduation and a January/February externship, ideally in a fun, fast-paced atmosphere such as a casino or resort.
“ACI was on my ‘Bucket List,’ and I’m at a point in my life where I’m trying to figure out what I want to do before I grow up,” laughs a tired, but proud Mitchell after having just completed an intense day in her advanced baking class. “I’m grateful for this opportunity, and I can’t imagine having gone anywhere else but ACI,” adds Mitchell.
Mitchell joined the Navy at age 17 and she enjoyed a very successful career, serving our country as a Hospital Corpsman. After 12 years in the Armed Forces, where she completed her Master’s Degree, Mitchell then spent several years working in the private sector, including running her own business before deciding to use the GI Bill to help fund her passion for cooking.
“I was looking for a chance to do something fun, and on my own terms,” relates Mitchell, “and Arizona Culinary Institute is VA Certified. They were able to process the GI Bill thoroughly and quickly, and the whole process was smooth and seamless.”
Julie admits that she was intimidated at first, having no kitchen experience when she started at ACI, but as a fan of shows like Master Chef that employs home cooks, she saw everyday people creating beautiful dishes and thought: “I can do that!”
“Jump in – don’t wait,” Mitchell readily admits telling her friends who are thinking about attending Arizona Culinary Institute. “ACI instructors teach you what you need to know, and all their chefs are open to questions and different points of view, even if you’re not one of their students. I just wish that I had started earlier. I am so happy that I chose ACI, and it’s such a family environment.”
Having traveled extensively, Mitchell’s favorite cuisine is Japanese, and she loves the “Revolving Sushi” concept where conveyor belts turn this art form into “Fast Food Sushi!”
“I may not be ready to attempt Sushi quite yet,” smiles Mitchell, “But after some time in the field, I can definitely see myself teaching one day. I would love to be an instructor, teaching people like they do here at ACI, from a book point of view, as well as an experience point of view.”
“Julie has been an exemplary student from day one,” notes Chef Wolf. “During her time in Basics with me, she excelled in every possible way. Choosing her as Student of the Month was a no-brainer,” adds a proud Wolf. “I was happy to be able to take her to Binkley’s, so she could see the highest level of fine dining that there is, and Julie fit in to their kitchen very well.”
Mitchell is incredibly excited about her future as a chef, and she can’t wait for the fine dining experience that ACI’s own du Jour Restaurant will provide to her, but when it comes time for her to choose her ultimate culinary destination, Mitchell believes that it will be a lot like her – somewhere fun and inviting: “I’m not actually a high-end, fine dining kind of girl,” muses Mitchell. “I’m thinking more like American comfort food – elevated – somewhere you can bring the kids.”