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Arizona Culinary Institute’s Student of the Month turns tragedy into triumph


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  • Terence Murnin/Arizona Culinary Institute

Mary Haynes Is Arizona Culinary Institute's August 2015 Student Of The Month

No one would blame Mary Haynes, Arizona Culinary Institute’s  August 2015 Student of the Month for indulging in a little self-pity considering all that she’s been through in the last year.

Born into a Navy family and raised in ports from Hawaii to Virginia, Haynes recently retired from a career as a Captain in the correctional system in Eloy, AZ.

Arizona Culinary Institute’s Student of the Month turns tragedy into triumph Insideary_Haynes_ACI-Student-of-the-Month_August-2015

Mary Haynes is Arizona Culinary Institute’s August 2015 Student of the Month

“My best friend, Emmanuel Encisco and I dreamed about running our own food truck,” laments Haynes.

The universe, however, had other plans, and Encisco passed away unexpectedly last January.

“Instead of wallowing in sorrow, I decided that I was still going to run our food truck in his honor,” notes a very confident and determined Haynes.

After performing an online search, Haynes made the decision to attend Arizona Culinary Institute, and now, the 4.0 GPA student with a perfect attendance record commutes to ACI in Scottsdale from Casa Grande, about a one hour commute each way.

“For me, the sacrifices are worth it because the instructors here are willing to answer any question, and I’m learning so much,” notes Haynes.

Haynes has already lined up her externship at Base Pizzeria, a new all-organic restaurant at 32nd Street and Lincoln in Phoenix that also features an amazing wine list.

Haynes credits Chef Tracy Dewitt for opening her eyes to the joy of baking, and Chef Santo Villarico for demanding excellence, pushing Haynes to become all that she can be.

“Southern barbeque brings me home to my Mom’s house in North Carolina,” says Haynes, “and I can really see myself specializing in this technique one day.”

Haynes reflects on watching the movie CHEF again and making the decision to continue to follow her dreams – no matter what happened.

“It reminded me to find what makes you happy – and then, pursue that passion,” relates Haynes. “It can be overwhelming, but you’re never too young – or too old, to start a new career. “

The Arizona Culinary Institute’s founding principles are traditional, proven French Method cooking skills combined with the best of modern techniques. ACI prepares students for careers in Culinary Arts & Hospitality covering a broad range of areas.

Du Jour is the culinary laboratory that the advanced students of the school operate as a French fine dining experience. For more information, please contact the Arizona Culinary Institute at (480) 603-1066 or info@azculinary.edu.