Carmel Magazine

CM Winter 2016 Issue

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Page 161 of 227

W hen retired Monterey County Superior Cour t Judge John Phillips first explored the idea of turning the abandoned Natividad Boys' Ranch into a facility for at-risk and underserved youth, he spent $26,000 researching whether such a project could succeed. Twenty-five-year-old Mayra Lopez of Salinas has always enjoyed cooking. As a youngster, she learned basic techniques and recipes from her mother. When she started high school, she took a culinary class that further sparked her interest. Over time, however, Lopez found herself strug- gling with the conventional classroom structure. She got into trouble for truancy. Then at age 16, she gave birth to a son. With a small child and new responsibilities, Lopez never saw cooking as a viable career option. "Culinary schools are so far away and they all seemed so expensive. Plus, I'd have to move my son if I went away to school," she says. "It just never seemed within my reach." Lopez spent the next few years juggling school and part-time jobs, but the pieces didn't click into place until she learned about the Rancho Cielo Youth Campus. The Salinas facility helps young men and women who, for various reasons, have not found success in other set- tings. Some are from low-income backgrounds or violent neighborhoods, and some have been Chef Patrick Rendon (center) prepares students Margarita Zamora, Sabrina Saldivar, Mayra Lopez,Alex Guillen, Diana Acosta (back), Hector Medina, and Moses Rincon for hospitality careers at Rancho Cielo's Drummond Culinary Academy. 160 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 6 Fine meals are served by Drummond Culinary Academy every Friday night.

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