April 2016, Volume 20, Number 2

Making Their Mark

Making the Cut

David Maya
MCI graduate David Maya now works in Chicago at Alinea, a three-star Michelin restaurant recently named the world’s best restaurant by Elite Traveler.

With each graduating class, MDC’s Miami Culinary Institute is keeping its promise to propel students into exciting careers – especially with alumni like David Maya, who found himself working in one of the world’s top-ranked restaurants within weeks of graduation.

After earning certificates in culinary operations management and chef’s apprentice, Maya flew to Chicago in hopes of landing a job at Alinea, a three-star Michelin restaurant recently named the world’s best restaurant by Elite Traveler.

Aspiring Chef

Since his first restaurant job at age 16, Maya aspired to work with Alinea’s executive chef, Grant Achatz, a leader in molecular gastronomy. Maya used to practice recipes from Achatz’s cookbook and fall asleep watching his tutorial videos on YouTube.

Maya showed up at Alinea’s back door with his chef’s knives and was granted a tryout. For three days, he worked 18-hour shifts and watched as other aspiring chefs around him didn’t make the cut.

“It was the most intense test of my life, but it was all worth it when I heard the words ‘You’re hired,’” Maya said. “I didn’t even fly back to Miami. I found an apartment that week and had my mom ship me my clothes.”

At Alinea, Maya worked as a chef de partie for the fish station, where he oversaw preparation and plating of various courses.

“I’m an artist at heart, and I love doing designs,” he said. “It’s expressing who you are on the plate without diners even knowing who you are.”

Technique + Tenacity

Maya also had an opportunity to work at Moto, another one of Chicago’s top restaurants at the forefront of molecular gastronomy. Maya said this chance to work in two Michelin-star restaurants wouldn’t have been possible without his MCI education.

“I chose MCI because I saw I could get an education in a cutting-edge facility and learn truly modern techniques in addition to the classic French culinary foundation,” Maya said. “It also gave me a chance to find myself and learn how to create.”


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