Pauline Garza, a student at Washington State University Tri-Cities, has never wanted to be anything other than a chef.
Growing up, she said she remembers watching her mother and grandmother cook, hoping one day that she, too, would take hold of a spoon to whip up something that would captivate the senses.
“I just love food,” she said. “Becoming a chef has always been on my mind. I never really thought of doing anything else.”
Garza held a few jobs in the restaurant industry, and even job shadowed at Table 10, one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in Las Vegas. Now a full-time chef for the 3 Eyed Fish Wine Bar in Richland, she plans the menus, completes the shopping, researches meal ideas and prepares courses for restaurant customers.
However, even with all this experience, Garza said there was still much to learn about the restaurant business.
This year, Garza enrolled in the hospitality business management (HBM) degree program at WSU Tri-Cities, which is offered at the campus for the first time this fall. The WSU Faculty Senate voted to extend the bachelor of arts degree to the Carson College of Business on the Tri Cities campus March 12, 2015. The degree will offer two majors: HBM and wine business management.
Garza said she originally started her degree at the WSU Pullman campus, but due to personal reasons, decided to move back home and put school on hold. She resumed school at WSU Tri-Cities and planned on getting a business degree since the campus didn’t offer the HBM degree. But now that she can specialize in HBM, she will have the opportunity to apply even more of what she learns in the classroom to her career.
“I was really worried when I left Pullman that I wouldn’t have the same opportunities, but now, I like to think that I’m in the Tri-Cities for a reason,” she said.
Cindy Goulet (’90), owner of 3 Eyed Fish Wine Bar and a graduate of WSU Pullman’s hotel and restaurant program, said she is thrilled about the WSU Tri-Cities campus offering the degree. She said it will allow her to find even more talented employees like Garza.
“I think it is really exciting,” she said. “We are always looking for talented people. We are so fortunate to have (Pauline) here.”
Garza said she is already putting what she has learned through her business classes at the university to good use. She said school helps keep her motivated and increases her potential to be a better chef and future business owner.
“I want to have my own bistro and influence others who are passionate about the food industry,” she said. “I want to make beautiful food for everybody. It’s all about getting that smile after the first bite from my customers.”