Along with their shared love for cooking, Student Nutrition Executive Chef Alicia R. and her son Seth M. have a common bond: they both have pursued culinary careers at Aramark.
Chef Alicia R. (she/her) currently serves as an Executive Chef for Lewisville ISD, one of the largest school districts in Texas. She began working in a bakery in her early 20s but viewed the job as a way to make extra income so she could stay at home with her three children. As time went on, Chef Alicia wanted to pursue a career about which she was passionate. That’s when she formally entered the culinary world.
“It was a late journey, like Julia Child I like to say. I was in my late 30s, and I wanted to do something that I truly loved. When I decided to go to culinary school, my goal was to be a pastry chef, but as I worked, I started experimenting with more flavors, really wanting to learn more.”
Chef Alicia first began working for Aramark as a Baker at Baylor University while attending culinary school. There, she was able to learn new skills, learn more about different dietary restrictions, and advance her position to the title of Supervisor.
Upon her graduation from culinary school, Chef Alicia embarked on Aramark’s two early career development programs: Step Up to Leadership and Accelerate to Leadership. In her S2L internship, she worked in a Facilities role, learning about a different side of the business. In her A2L program, she returned to the culinary field.
“I completed my A2L program at Southern Methodist University where I was a Chef Manager with their athletic program and residential operations. I loved the dynamic of it and how it was so different than baking. After my year with the program, I pivoted to a role with Aramark Student Nutrition, where I’ve been since 2019.”
Born in Seoul, raised in Puerto Rico, and now living in Texas, Chef Alicia has had the opportunity to share her love of cooking with her five children. Her son Seth (he/him) latched on to that same passion, and this summer, is part of Aramark’s S2L program, just like his mom was a few years ago.
Growing up, Seth loved science, but when he went to college, he started to lose the motivation and drive to study science that he once had. Choosing another path, Seth found a culinary program where he could use science to cook, understanding the foundation it offers and entranced by the limitless possibilities in the kitchen.
“I chose to do my internship through Aramark’s S2L program because of trust. My mom went through the same internship program, and she told me about the chefs who work at Aramark, what they teach, and how they would be willing to give feedback to help me improve and learn.”
Seth credits his mom for helping inspire him personally and professionally.
“My mom is the strongest woman I know. She often sends me different pictures of her dishes, showing and teaching me how different ingredients can be used together. She’ll always go the extra mile.”
Chef Alicia reaches for remarkable every day at Aramark – apparent not only in her role as an Executive Chef, but also in her participation in Aramark’s Student Nutrition Culinary Alliance and Aramark Culinary Excellence (ACE) Competitions.
ACE is Aramark’s annual culinary competition using American Culinary Federation (ACF) standards to showcase and celebrate the talent of our chefs. Since her time with Aramark began, Chef Alicia had her sights set on winning ACE.
“The first time I competed in ACE was in 2019 when I worked with Aramark Collegiate Hospitality. I didn’t win, but that didn’t stop me. When the opportunity came up again this year in 2023, I was beyond excited and ready to make my return.”
Chef Alicia placed in the top three at Aramark Student Nutrition’s National ACE Competition, securing the opportunity to compete in Aramark’s global competition, set to take place at our Philadelphia Headquarters in October.
When reflecting on her favorite things about her career with Aramark, Chef Alicia fondly notes the connections she has made and the support she has received as the reasons why she is passionate about encouraging others to pursue a career at Aramark.
“This is where I grew to be the chef that I am. I’ve grown as a leader, as a woman, and as a minority in the workplace. In turn, I find it important to guide others. I want to pass on that same guidance that I received in my career at Aramark.”
Chef Alicia has guided many at Aramark, but above all, she has inspired Seth who has learned that having an open mind is one of the most important things you can have when pursuing a culinary career. She truly believes in holding tight to the people and ideas that inspire you most.
“Sometimes as chefs, when we’re caught up in our day-to-day, we forget why we’re here. I often have to remind myself that when I cook with an open heart and mind, amazing things happen. Never lose that passion of what brought you to becoming a chef.”