A New Recipe for Success

By Samuel Guzman


The pots and pans clanking, fryers boiling, the sizzling sounds of the grill, and the non-stop communication between the student cooks are all common sights and sounds of the El Dorado Culinary class. The man behind this controlled chaos in the kitchen is Chef Rick Harbison. This is Harbison’s first year taking control of the culinary program at El Dorado High School.


Throughout Harbison’s life, he had spent most of his life going into construction. With Harbison growing up in a family where the trait of bricklaying was in the bloodline, he had decided to stick with it even after attending UTEP and getting a degree in Journalism.


“I realized with my degree that I was making more money as a bricklayer,” Harbison said. “I was good with working with my hands, and I ended up sticking with it.”


Even though Harbison followed the family footsteps of bricklaying, he had always had a passion of cooking.


“Ever since high school I had always loved cooking,” Harbison said. “I could come home dead tired from laying blocks all day and I would always be cooking something.”


Harbison’s passion for cooking had persuaded him to attend culinary school and become a chef. He attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Las Vegas and earned his culinary degree. Harbison then worked in many casino kitchens in Las Vegas, NV with Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesar’s Entertainment) and also lead the Culinary Arts program at the David L. Carrasco Job Corps Center of El Paso.


“I started researching on the Internet for different culinary schools and I figured if I go anywhere I got to support myself,” Harbison said. “ I decided to go to Las Vegas because with as many hotels and tourists they have there was a ton of chef work.”


Harbison’s experience in the field led him to getting the job of the culinary teacher at El Dorado High School. He has implemented changes to the program already and has taught his students valuable lessons. Senior Taylor Camarena is the President of the culinary club and has learned from him.


“For a short period of time I did get turned off to culinary just because of the adjustment,” Camarena said. “But now I got a tougher skin because of him and it was a good thing that came out of it. It made me want to do culinary now.”


Harbison makes sure that all of his students that go through his program learn a lesson no matter what.

“I always hope they turn up to a job with their work ethic, whether they go into construction, accounting, healthcare, or whatever,” Harbison said. “Put the pedal to the metal, because nobody wants to see a ‘slouch.’ Lazy people get passed up for hard workers every time.”