Walking through the Piazza, observers can witness chefs walking through a white door labeled “dishwashing.” Inside lie multiple cooking stations and a classroom for the culinary arts class. With her black chef’s hat and wardrobe, former PCC student, Chef Jacqueline Smith, now instructor of culinary arts uses her knowledge not only to teach baking and catering, but also life lessons.Name of school: “I really didn’t go to any other school than PCC. I started off at PCC and graduated from PCC in 1988. I received a certificate in food services and an Associate Degree last year. I also have a certificate for administrative honors in 1991, but didn’t receive it in 2004.”

Best thing: “I was in the Benjamin Harkavey ballet school. I also received a scholarship of 30 dollars a month from Washington Irvine high school to dance.”

Worst thing: “My mother and stepfather broke up. My mother disappeared for more than a year. I pretty much lived with my aunt, I felt abandoned. She left when I was 8 years old and she came back when I was 10 years old.”

Most interesting experience: “In eighth grade, my dramatic coach director created a Treasure Island play and I played Ben Gunn, it was the highlight of my life. I was told I was a natural born actress from my instructor. Also, when I was 14 years old, I got into dance from my high school. I remember three of us in the class received a part to dance for a kid’s television show.”

Anything you would change: “I wouldn’t have allowed myself to be forced to get married because I couldn’t leave without being married first. I wish I’d pursued a dance career and acting.”

What I know now that I wish I’d know then: “I know now that humans are more forgiving of one another. When I was little I didn’t think people would be so forgiving. My philosophy has always been everybody is equal. I believe that no one group is number one. We all need to embrace other cultures.”

Student opinion: “She is a great teacher and cook. I really enjoy her compassion and kind heart. I really learned a lot of things from her, not just to cook, but to be a better person,” said Chi Hong Wong, a culinary arts student.

The photo, left, courtesy of Jacqueline Smith. The recent photo by Roger Lai. (Michael Cheng)

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