STC Culinary Art introduces new associate degree track

Photo Above: South Texas College Culinary Arts has introduced a new program – Restaurant Management, to align with industry needs, which include more highly-skilled leaders, managers.

By Amanda Sotelo

Edinburg, Texas, January 31, 2024 — Il Forno Brands owner and long-time South Texas College Culinary Arts partner Jaime Muriel said anyone can be a great cook, but it’s excellent management and leadership skills that create success, which is why STC’s Culinary Arts newest restaurant management program is what the region needs.

The newest program added to the lineup of already successful Culinary Arts courses, was implemented last semester as a response to industry demand.

Chef Nadia Casaperalta Velazquez, STC Culinary Arts lecturer, said the new program which includes classes such as economics, accounting, hospitality management and facility design, was born upon consultation from the department’s advisory board which agreed that skilled leaders and managers are in peak demand.

“Industry trends are showing exponential growth in technological advancements in the food service industry,” said Velazquez. “And with this, comes the need for highly skilled leaders and managers in and out of the kitchen. This program will begin to facilitate that.”

The new, two-year associate degree program compliments the already strong baking and cooking programs within the department.

The program is open to students who recently graduated from STC’s Culinary Arts program or to industry professionals who want to upskill or help their employees with professional development.

Muriel, who said STC’s Culinary Arts graduates have been great hires, said this program will take them to a new level.

“We have great talent in the Valley and STC’s Culinary Arts program is producing professionals that can be given high standards and can reach them,” he said. “Working together to help these students and graduates be well-rounded and be proud of their profession is changing our industry culture and expectations for the better. We are helping people, our community and our region.”

STC’s newest culinary partner, Mary Soto, owner of Jolie Petite, a French cuisine and bakery in Brownsville, set to open in the coming months, said she is looking forward to being an official capstone training site for STC Culinary Arts students who may live closer to Cameron County.

“Their skills are needed across the Rio Grande Valley,” she said. “I studied online, and I longed for the hands-on experience these STC students receive, and it was local Chef Larry Delgado who finally gave me the chance and I want to be that person for these students. Leadership and management are so important and I’m proud to be a part of the advances STC is taking in our field.”

Delgado is also one STC’s dedicated partners and the owner of several high-end restaurants in McAllen such as House Wine & Bistro, SALT and Solomé on Main.

STC’s Restaurant Management program is already preparing students like Edgar Cabrera who has already completed an internship with Bonhamía in McAllen, a high-end pastry shop that serves breakfast and brunch.

As an intern, Cabrera prepared breads for baking and decorated desserts. He said baking is his passion and he hopes to one day own a bakery, which means enrolling in the restaurant management program was a no-brainer. 

“I started cooking and baking at a young age with my mom, grandma and aunt. This is my passion,” said the 28-year-old. “Being able to gain leadership and management skills is the icing on top. I’ll be able to hit the ground running and be more marketable as I begin my career.”

The STC Culinary Arts program offers two certificates in commercial cooking and baking and two other associate degree tracks which include a Culinary Arts Associate of Applied Science – Specialization: Baking and Pastry Arts and a Culinary Arts Associate of Applied Science.

The program also recently expanded its program, with a brand-new, industry-standard kitchen at STC’s Mid-Valley campus in Weslaco.

“We are growing and encompassing a larger service area now with our program…restaurants across the Valley are looking for our students, they’re hiring them,” said Velazquez. “We have a bigger presence in the RGV, and we’ve really built our program from the foundation, up. This is our way of keeping great employees in our region and investing in them.”

For more information on STC’s Culinary Arts programs, visit