Elvis Torres loves food. He enjoys eating it, but he really takes delight in creating dishes for others to dine on. The Huntington High School senior hopes to turn his passion for food into a career. He plans to get the ball rolling at Monroe College in New Rochelle.
“I chose Monroe College because it’s near home and in a setting where I feel comfortable,” Mr. Torres said. “I visited the college while on a field trip with Wilson Tech. I imagined myself being there and I saw an older version of myself walking to class and feeling relaxed there. What I’m interested in studying is culinary arts and baking because it fascinates me. It inspires me. It makes me dream like a child.”
Monroe College has multiple campuses around the metropolitan area. Mr. Torres intends to take classes in New Rochelle where the college’s School of Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts is housed. It’s one of the largest such programs in the United States and also among the most selective.
“Our faculty of experienced chefs, executive pastry chefs and hospitality managers understand that success in service industries requires pride, passion and professionalism,” according to a program overview. “Students who clearly exhibit a commitment to these values will not only be welcomed into the program, they will get started on a path toward career success.”
Mr. Torres considered Johnson & Wales University, Culinary Institute of America, Nassau Community College and Suffolk Community College before finalizing his plans to attend Monroe College.
The senior is studying culinary arts at the Dix Hills campus of Western Suffolk BOCES-Wilson Tech and taking classes in economics, participation in government, English, forensics and physical education at Huntington High School.
“My career interest includes jumping to many restaurants to the point where I have mastered my skills and can then open my own café or restaurant,” Mr. Torres said.
The teenager got involved with the high school’s literary magazine, Et Cetera this year. He has developed great relationships with Huntington teachers Anthony Troffa, Michael Schwendemann, Barbara Noble and Jean Czerniawski and Wilson Tech chefs Nancy Kombert and Robert Scavo, each of whom has extensive experience in the culinary field.
Ms. Kombert has owned and operated a South Shore restaurant and is a certified executive chef with a degree from the Culinary Institute of America. A graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Mr. Scavo has worked as a chef for the Ritz Carlton Hotels and the Hyatt Corporation and maintains memberships in the Retail Bakers Assn. and the National Restaurant Assn. The have been wonderful teachers and mentors for Mr. Torres.
“My favorite has to be Mr. Troffa,” the senior said. The feeling is mutual.
“Elvis is a very conscientious student who consistently worked hard in my class,” Mr. Troffa said. “He always went above and beyond and truly showed a love for history. I knew Elvis was serious about culinary arts, even during his junior year. He would often talk about really enjoying what he was learning at Wilson Tech and often stated that he will one day own his own restaurant.”
Mr. Schwendemann is equally high on the teenager. “Elvis is driven to succeed,” the veteran teacher said. “He wants to do well. The only thing greater than his ambition to do well is his sense of humor. Upon entering my classroom he always had a smile on his face, which immediately put a smile on mine. Simply put; he is just a great kid!”
Mr. Torres is excited about graduating from high school and moving on to college. Founded in 1933, Monroe College enrolls about 6,600 students of which 5,800 are undergraduates. The student body represents 75 countries.
“The highlight of my time at Huntington High is meeting a certain someone who changed my point of view and ideas of the world I’m living in,” Mr. Torres said.
The teenager said he was having a mundane high school experience at first, “but once I met the right people and joined the right club, I had a blast.”
While Mr. Torres said he went through some “struggles,” there have also been many happy moments. “I will always remember is 2018 K-Factor [talent show] where I ran up to the stage and gave my girlfriend a flower,” he said.