Senior cooks up future career
through culinary arts program


Bella Alicea

Senior Isabella “Bella” Alicea works on a new creation in the kitchen. Alicea has been able to explore her career options in the culinary field through the high school’s program as well as family traditions. “She’s had this epiphany with what she’s going to do with her life,” Culinary Instructor Cristina Goodman said. “And, that’s been a fantastic thing because she has been able to take lead roles in the kitchen here and at work.”

Maddie Moats, Reporter

After years of practice and dedication to culinary arts, senior Bella Alicea knows the path she wants to take. As it turns out, it all traces back to holidays in with her grandmother, carefully crafting endless batches of cookies, a beloved family tradition.

Senior Isabella “Bella” Alicea always had a knack for all things culinary, but it just took the right mentors and the right opportunities to open her eyes to what she could achieve. Alicea has been part of the culinary arts program since her freshman year, and she now looks forward to where she can take her knowledge and passion for culinary arts. Clients of the Eagle Eatery taste her work weekly now. In the future, her culinary creations may be available to customers daily. 

According to Alicea, her grandmother sparked her passion for cooking and baking through their special family traditions.

“For Christmas every year I was with my grandmother in the kitchen, and we would do this cookie swap because she’s one of 12 sisters,” Alicea said. “In order to stay connected, we would do 12 batches of cookies for each of the sisters and send them out, and they would send back one of their specialty recipes.”

When Alicea moved to Prosper from Florida, Alicea said Prosper’s culinary program caught her eye.

“We were looking for a school that had a culinary program because I was always in the kitchen with my mother and my grandmother before that and my aunt,” Alicea said. “We were just always cooking at the house.” 

Since joining the culinary program, Alicea said she appreciates the program’s teaching of conceptualizing recipes and coming up with new and creative ideas.

“I love the fact that I can talk to the culinary instructor Chef Goodman about everything that I’m thinking of, and she’ll give me ideas back,” Alicea said. “We can just bounce right off of each other with ideas.”

According to the culinary instructor Chef Cristina Goodman, the culinary arts program provides students with the fundamentals they need to come up with new ideas in the kitchen.

“It’s about life experience,” Goodman said. “Learning a basic skill and being able to translate it to catering, to home life, to creating new experiences for people.”

Alicea is part of the advanced program for culinary arts, which includes Prosper’s Eagle Eatery.

“We set up and develop a menu for teacher lunches that they can pay us five dollars for, and then we cater them at lunch on a certain day of the week,” Alicea said.

In addition to the Eagle Eatery, the advanced culinary arts students cater different community events.

“We do the senior citizens’ lunch, the veterans’ day lunch, and then we do catering outside of the high school, as well,” Goodman said. “We’ve catered weddings. We’ve catered Eagle Scout events. We’ve done whatever things the community has needed us to do.”

With the exposure to the culinary industry that the culinary arts program has brought to Alicea, she said that she wants to continue her education in the field.

“After high school, I’m planning on going to the Culinary Institute of America,” Alicea said. “It’s a culinary school in New York, and it’s one of the best culinary schools in America.”

Once she completes her education, Alicea said that she wants to open up her own restaurant. But, it wouldn’t be any normal restaurant.

“I’ve always been into pastry and cookies and things like that,” Alicea said. “So, I would love to open up my dessert-only restaurant called ‘Desert Before Dinner.'”

Alicea has received several opportunities to further explore and obtain real-world experience with culinary arts, including working under Chef Joe Rojas at the restaurant Zaytinya.

“She’s had this epiphany with what she’s going to do with her life,” Goodman said. “And, that’s been a fantastic thing because she has been able to take lead roles in the kitchen here and at work.”

As for students interested in joining the culinary arts program, Alicea said that ambition and respect are key factors in one’s success within the program.

“Just have fun while you do it and respect the teacher’s rules,” Alicea said. “It’s not hard as long as you are willing to learn. You have to have that ambition to want to learn more about culinary.”