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#Giving Tuesday 2019

In honor of #GivingTuesday, and the conclusion of the 2019 Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund recipients studies at ICC in New York, I wanted to share a small part of their journey with you. Here are the stories that Yan Torres and Alejandro Castellon wanted to share with all of you!

Please consider donating to the Aarón Sánchez Scholarship Fund so we can continue to provide culinary scholarships for future students. To donate click HERE.

The 2019 scholarship recipients, Yan and Alejandro, in New York City.

Yan Torres

As my time in New York City comes to an end, and I get ready to go back home, the feeling is bittersweet. The past ten months have been amazing. I had the opportunity to eat incredible food, visit wonderful places, and make relationships that will last a lifetime. Thinking back to when I first arrived it’s crazy to see how much I’ve changed and grown as a person. This opportunity has opened so many doors, both professionally and personally. Throughout my journey I learned not only about gastronomy, but I also learned many life lessons that helped shaped my mentality about everything.

I’m very grateful to everyone that made this possible, starting with Chef Aarón Sánchez. Through his passion to help Hispanic youth, I was able to be here. I’m thankful for all his mentoring, and simply believing in my potential and in my abilities.

Throughout the time in New York City I had the chance to work under two chefs and mentors, though very different, both restaurants became a home while in the city. Chef Adam Latham from The Gumbo Bros helped me get adjusted in the first few months, and Chef Jose Luis from Mission Ceviche took great care of me for the remaining months. I’m grateful to both chefs and their staff, who made me feel at home when I most needed it. I’m also very thankful to everyone at the International Culinary Center, this place and everyone that works in it, from our chef instructors to the staff and my wonderful classmates, became fundamental in my growth here. I will never forget them, and everything that I learned here.

I’m incredibly grateful for Chef Zarela Martinez, who became a mentor, a confidant and a friend. Words can’t thank her enough for everything. I’m very grateful for Kate Floberg, who took great care of me and was always there when needed. She became more than just the foundation director, she became a friend. Lastly I want to thank everyone that has donated or somehow been a part of making this a possibility. You’ve made what seemed like opportunities I could only dream of my reality.

I just want to say that everyone mentioned here is so important to me. This has changed my life, every little experience and every lesson learned. But before finishing this last journal I want to especially thank Alejandro, we’ve shared this journey up to now and there’s no one I would’ve rather shared it with. In these months you became my brother, and although our journeys take different paths now, we will always be family. Here’s to more adventures and to continue growing and kicking butt in our careers.

To the future recipients, take advantage of this opportunity to the max. Don’t take any second of it for granted. You guys will do great things! And remember, we are the future of the Hispanic community, in and outside of the kitchen.


Alejandro Castellon

Wow, what a journey it has been. Now that our time here in New York has come to an end, I can’t express my appreciation enough. This entire experience has been amazing and one like no other. I have learned so much here in the Big Apple from school, mentors, and the city life. When I received my diploma from the International Culinary Center in the professional culinary arts program, I felt proud of myself knowing that I have overcome so much and I did the best I could. Thank you so much for allowing me to have a once in a lifetime experience. Through my time in New York, I have become a better person, cook, brother, and son. Not only have I gained more cooking experience and knowledge but I have also learned so many life skills that will help me to be better. Though my 10 months here were nice, it feels a little weird and sad that I’m going back home, but I know it will be great to bring all of the skills and knowledge back home.

I’m so grateful to have been able to work with two chefs and mentors, Chefs Jose Luis and Adam Latham, who welcomed me with open arms and have taken good care of me here in New York. Thanks to ICC for all of the support and care they have shown us students and to all of our chefs, you were all amazing.

I got to spend my 21st birthday here in New York City, travel to Los Angeles and Austin, meet really cool and awesome chefs, try and explore different foods and cuisines, and have made relationships that I will cherish forever.

Another HUGE thank you to someone who has been like a big sister to me, Yan Torres. Together we have laughed, fought, sweat, and cooked; We will always be family. Yan has made me better, and we really work well together and compliment each other. The biggest THANK YOU to our amazing special Chef Aarón Sánchez. His passion for not only his food and cooking, but his Latin roots and family has challenged me to be like him. His team, Danielle, and Kate, have been amazing! Kate has been there for us, and has been the glue that has kept us all together.

From the beginning to now, I have seen a great change in myself and I can’t wait to see what what the future has in store for me. I hope I can help other people pursue their dreams and turn them into a reality like the Aaron Sanchez Scholarship Fund has done for me. Again thank you for everything!!!

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