We Hire EVIT: Ripe Personal Chef Services
Posted on 05/04/2018
Ripe Personal Chef Services looks for self-motivated, hard working chefs like EVIT alum Dezirea Contreras, who is still building on her training her at EVIT. When Dezirea Contreras decided as a Mesa High School student to enroll in the Culinary Arts program at the East Valley Institute of Technology, she never imagined how many doors EVIT would open for her in the culinary industry.

She started working in restaurants while still in high school, earned a $90,000 scholarship for a college education she never dreamed would be possible, and today at 27, is a personal chef for Valley families, professional athletes & other high-profile clients through Scottsdale-based Ripe Personal Chef Services.

EVIT Culinary alum Dezirea Contreras

“EVIT is the foot that gets you in the door,” Contreras said. “People hear you went to EVIT, that you put in the time to learn your craft – and they want to hire you.”

Culinary Arts is one of over 40 career and technical education programs EVIT offers for East Valley high school students and adults. EVIT Culinary alumni have gone on to work as chefs in restaurants like Tarbell’s and The Sanctuary on Camelback, and in hospitality management for major hotel chains. In fact, it was the connections Contreras made with EVIT alumni working in the industry that led to several of her restaurant jobs and her position with Ripe.

Stephanie Heller, CEO of Ripe Personal Chef Services, has hired two EVIT culinary alumni. Her clients include CEOs and professional athletes with the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Dodgers and other baseball teams that come to Arizona for spring training. So when Heller hires a chef for her business, she not only wants someone with top-notch culinary skills, but also someone with personality, a can-do attitude, and a demeanor that is open to learning. She has found all of that in Contreras.

“If someone is driven like she is,” Heller said of Contreras, “that’s definitely something I’m looking for.”

But Contreras didn’t start out that way. As a shy teenager in 2006, she enrolled in the EVIT culinary program. It didn’t take long for her chef instructors to recognize her talent, but also that she needed to be pushed beyond her comfort zone. Chef Mike Turcotte urged her to compete in the annual C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program) competition – and she ended up winning $90,000 to attend the Art Institute of Phoenix, where she earned her associate degree.

“I wasn’t going to go to college. It was too expensive,” she said. “But Chef Mike saw something in me. I feel like I owe a lot to him for that.”

Contreras completed the two-year EVIT program in a year and a half, all while going to Mesa High and working full-time in the evenings at a restaurant. By the time she got to the Art Institute, she was “leaps and bounds ahead of the other students,” she said.

Today, as a young married mother, she is grateful for a rewarding career with flexible hours as a personal chef.

Heller said students often don’t realize the wide range of opportunities in the chef profession. “People think there is only one way to do this,” she said. “But there’s a trillion other ways this can go. Being a personal chef is one of them.”

EVIT students have a 98 percent high school graduation rate, 2 out of 3 go on to college & 92 percent are in jobs, college or the military within one year of their training. Enroll today: evit.com

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Ripe Personal Chef Services hires EVIT alum

EVIT does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, age, or sexual orientation in its programs or activities. CTE program offerings include: Arts, Audio/Video Technology & Communications; Auto & Transportation Services; Construction Technologies; Culinary Arts & Hospitality; Education; Engineering; Health Sciences; Human Services; Information Technology; Manufacturing Trades; and Public Safety. For a full listing of programs, go to evit.com/programs. The lack of English language skills will not be a barrier to admission and participation in EVIT CTE programs. The following employees have been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Title IX/Title VII/EEOC Coordinator, EVIT Superintendent, 1601 W. Main St., Mesa, AZ 85201 or call (480) 461-4000, or by email at superintendent@evit.com; Section 504/ADA Coordinator, Tony Niccum, STEPS, 1601 W. Main St., Mesa, AZ 85201, or call (480) 461-4154 or by email tniccum@evit.com

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