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updated: 1/24/2014 10:25 PM

Harper culinary student aspires to cook up magic in Disney kitchen

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  • Video: Moving Picture: Disney Dream

  • Marisa Marquez deglazes her fry pan while making potatoes and chicken in the Harper College kitchen.

       Marisa Marquez deglazes her fry pan while making potatoes and chicken in the Harper College kitchen.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Marisa Marquez, in red, and her fellow students gather around her completed dish as Patrick Beach, head of the hospitality management program, talks about her effort in the kitchen at Harper College in Palatine.

       Marisa Marquez, in red, and her fellow students gather around her completed dish as Patrick Beach, head of the hospitality management program, talks about her effort in the kitchen at Harper College in Palatine.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Marisa Marquez carefully checks the internal temperature of her chicken dish.

       Marisa Marquez carefully checks the internal temperature of her chicken dish.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Marquez listens as Patrick Beach, head of the Hospitality Management program at Harper College, suggests a way to plate a dish in the school's kitchen.

       Marquez listens as Patrick Beach, head of the Hospitality Management program at Harper College, suggests a way to plate a dish in the school's kitchen.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Dani Garcia of Streamwood, left, Julie ana Pak of Northbrook and Marisa Marquez of Arlington Heights talk with instructor Beth O'Connell in the classroom at Harper College in Palatine.

       Dani Garcia of Streamwood, left, Julie ana Pak of Northbrook and Marisa Marquez of Arlington Heights talk with instructor Beth O'Connell in the classroom at Harper College in Palatine.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

  • Marquez places cookies on a cooling rack in the Harper College kitchen.

       Marquez places cookies on a cooling rack in the Harper College kitchen.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer

 
 

Harper College student Marisa Marquez's dream job is to work in the kitchen of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort and Spa in Orlando.

Marquez, who describes herself as a "huge" Disney fan, has watched TV programs which show pastry chefs and cooks working in the Disney kitchen and hopes to tour the Grand Floridian kitchen sometime soon.

"I've heard it's very nice in there, but also it's very crazy, too," Marquez said. "Disney is my passion."

Marquez, 19, is in her final semester as culinary student in the Hospitality Management Program at the community college in Palatine. She is a Chicago native who now lives in Arlington Heights.

Marquez has a second dream, which is to have her own food service truck. Her dad owned one but experienced difficulty with the business and converted it into an ice cream truck.

The courses Marquez has enrolled in at Harper teach students how to manage a business as well as engage in food preparation, and she plans to use this knowledge to help relaunch the food truck business.

"We plan to do that as a family and open it back up," Marquez said.

Marquez started cooking at home when she was a child under the supervision of her parents. She was 7 years old when she received her first children's cookbook.

After that, she started preparing omelettes and frittatas for her family, as well as other items featured in the cookbook. As she grew up, she took every possible consumer science and cooking class she could enroll in at school.

She explored the possibility of enrolling in the culinary arts school at Kendall College in Chicago after high school, but that option was too expensive. Instead, Marquez enrolled at Harper, and she is happy with her choice.

"I really love it here, it's a really good school," Marquez said.

She works under the guidance of professor and program coordinator Patrick Beach, instructor Beth O'Connell and her peers.

Marquez credits O'Connell with getting her to try new things.

"She showed me things that I would have never known, and taught me to try things that I would never try before," Marquez said of Chef O'Connell, while using Brussels sprouts as an example.

"I would never known how to cook them, or how to prepare them at all," Marquez said. "Now I love them. They're delectable."

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