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Steve Pitzen, Culinary Arts Major

“I signed up for my first HCAT class and I have been hooked ever since.”

As a Master Chief in the U.S. Navy and a student chef in the Hospitality, Culinary Arts and Tourism Institute, Steve Pitzen is a man of many uniforms.

Steve starting taking classes at AACC in 1991—a time when he was trying to decide whether to become a police officer or a teacher. The reality was he didn’t know what he wanted to do in life and AACC provided him with a quality education for a price less than four-year universities and colleges. What Steve did know was that he enjoyed being in the Navy and spending time with his wife and two daughters. And then, in 2001, he discovered his other passion in life: cooking.

“In 2001, I was looking through the college catalog and I saw culinary arts,” said Steve. "Back then the Food Network started to get big and I started watching it and thought I would like to do that. I signed up for my first class and I have been hooked ever since.”

Steve takes classes in the evening part-time to complete his associate’s degree in culinary arts through the HCAT Institute. He is also on the HCAT competitive Junior Culinary team, which recently won a bronze metal at the American Culinary Federation Northeast Regional Student Competition.

Today, Steve knows what he wants out of life, and he feels that HCAT is preparing him for his future career as a chef by showing him techniques and providing him with hands-on experience. After he graduates from AACC and he retires from the military, in a couple more years, he plans to put his culinary skills into action.

“After I retire, I want to work in a restaurant," said Steve. "After [what will be] 26 years in the military being basically a supervisor—which I love doing—after I retire, I want to have fun. I just want to cook, and I wouldn’t mind coming back here and teaching at HCAT, maybe as a teacher’s assistant or be involved in the program, because I really enjoy HCAT.”

Steve is not only a man of many uniforms; he is also a man of great advice. 

“I tell all my junior sailors to do their general education classes first because every program requires them,” said Steve.

And, if you are interested in cooking, he recommends really applying yourself in the introductory cooking classes.

“Cooking is a passion. You have to have the heart, the passion and the motivation to do it. Your dishes reflect how passionate you are,” added Steve.