STUDENT RETURNS TO MISSION COLLEGE AS CATERING COORDINATOR
Arturo Luna had two educations at Mission College. One led
to a degree; the other to a career.
Luna attended Mission College from 1996-2000, earning enough credits
for a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. At one time, Luna hoped
his studies would land him a career in computer science. But during
those years, Luna was also a student-worker, handling the cashbox
in the cafeteria. He often found himself peering over his shoulder
at the activity in the kitchen.
Luna, right, discusses catering arrangements with culinary
arts instructor Jesus Sanchez.
look back and see the students doing all this cooking," he
recalled. "I started asking them what they were doing until
one day Chef (Rudy Garcia) said, Come back here and learn
And learn "something,"
he did. Luna took only one culinary arts class in his four years
at Mission. But as a student worker, he learned enough in the kitchen
from chefs Garcia and Louis Zandalasini and instructor Jesus Sanchez,
to be given responsibility for setting up and carrying out catering
When he started giving thought to transferring to a university,
a defining event occurred. Until then, "Culinary was just a
hobby of mine," he said. But in 2000, when a student dropped
out of a Las Vegas competition at the last minute, Chef Garcia recruited
Luna as a replacement. Luna had two days to prepare, compared to
the months of preparation by other participants. To his surprise,
Luna (who had secretly hoped he would earn an honorable mention)
won a bronze medal.
"I couldnt believe it," he said. "I was being
judged by master chefs from all over the country. That was the greatest
moment I had at Mission College."
Culinary arts moved to the forefront of his plans and, with recommendations
from Garcia and other Mission College staff, Luna was admitted to
the Miami campus of Johnson and Wales University, one of the most
prestigious culinary arts schools in the nation. Luna earned a B.S.
degree in Hotel Management/Hospitality from J&W earlier this
Now, Luna is back at Mission College as the newly hired Catering
Events Coordinator. One of his primary responsibilities will be
to market the colleges catering services to the public and
outside groups. The department has already catered a number of high-profile
events sponsored by the Mission College Foundation, as well as some
private affairs. But the department wants to expand these services
to give students wider experience with special events, and to bring
private revenue to the college.
"Id like to have at least one major event a week,"
said Luna. "Once businesses and people in the community see
what were capable of, I think theyll keep coming back.
My job will be to make sure it all goes right and that the customer
So Luna who once brought home a bronze medal for Mission
College is now going for the gold.
BY EDUARDO PARDO