The college recently broke ground on a facility that will help students obtain jobs in the food industry.
By Jason Lewis
Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) is heavily investing in their culinary arts program. The school recently broke ground on a $48-million state-of-the-art building that will have labs, kitchens, and classrooms.
The school has a longtime commitment to the program, as LATTC has the nation’s longest, continuous college-based culinary arts department, and it has sent graduates to careers throughout the world. The training at LATTC is among the nation’s best.
“We offer the same certificate that private schools offer,” said department chair Chef Stacy Damaso, “Nothing less, nothing more. It’s all the same.”
Private culinary arts schools can cost well over $20,000, while LATTC is only $46 per unit. Students can complete the two-year program, receive an associate’s degree from LATTC, and start working for around $2,000. Some students complete the program in less than two years by taking summer and winter classes.
“When you graduate from here, you can apply to become a certified chef,” Damaso said.
The skills that are taught at LATTC can come in very handy in the job market, because there will always be a need for chefs.
“Restaurants need bodies,” Damaso said. “They need people to work. They’re looking for people who are trainable and that will show up everyday. You can work in hotels, restaurants, catering companies. Anywhere where food service is involved.”
Like any profession, most chefs start on the bottom of the industry and work their way up to financially rewarding positions.
“Entry-level positions start anywhere from $13 to $20 an hour, depending on how much experience and education a person has,” Damaso said. “If you work your way up to being an executive chef, in a fine dining restaurant or resort, you can earn in the high six figures.”
This program is also good for people who want to go into business for themselves. The food truck industry is booming, and many mom and pop restaurants and food stands are popping up. Catering businesses can also be lucrative.
“Many of our students are already entrepreneurs,” Damaso said. “With the laws today in California, it’s easier to sell your own product now. So some of our students do it on the side already. If they want to pursue the business side of the industry, there are classes on campus that show them how to start the business and how to get a license.”
Rod Johnson II is one of those entrepreneurs who sharpened his skills at LATTC. He owns a catering company, An’Des Catering (https://www.instagram.com/andes_catering/), and he’s looking to take his career to a higher level.
“I came to Trade Tech to enhance my techniques, knife skills, and to become more knowledge about the different cuisines,” he said. “Everything is hands on here at Trade Tech. It’s not just classrooms where teachers are coming at you with textbooks. You actually get familiar with the food.”
Johnson’s long-term goal is to open a restaurant chain. Last year he received his associate’s degree in restaurant management and book keeping.
“There are opportunities for you to learn the business side and the kitchen side,” he said.
For more information about the culinary arts program, call (213) 763-7331 or visit https://college.lattc.edu/culinaryarts/.
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