Article by Deb Freeman
Lead photo of Jessica Pinon- Rivera at The Culinary Institute of Virginia by Fitz
Jessica Pinon-Rivera got lost driving one day, and somehow ended up at the Culinary Institute of Virginia. She had considered attending, but thought she couldn’t afford it; once she wandered in, they were able to give her some options, and now she’s working towards her Associate degree in Culinary Arts.
Her style of cooking contains a lot of Latin flavors, and is spicy, fast, and easy. As she put it, “ it’s approachable…[a] home cooking style, and I like to make everything from scratch…I am not a fan of cans…I like my chiles to be fresh.” She considers caldo de res (beef soup) to be her favorite dish, and although her mom taught her to make it, admittedly when she makes it, “it’s still not the same.” Regularly, Pinon-Rivera also makes green enchiladas for her husband, which is his favorite dish.
Eventually, Pinon-Rivera would like to open an intimate fusion style restaurant which would serve breakfast and lunch from 5am to 3pm, with a variety of Latin flavors from places like Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. She explains, “These tastes came from my husband’s deployment in Mexico.”
A recent transplant to Hampton Roads (she’s only been here for a year), Pinon-Rivera used to enjoy cooking in her kitchen, but didn’t quite know what she was doing. In fact, she tried other careers before finding her passion for cooking, and now, as she puts it, “I know what I am doing…I love being in the kitchen.”
For more on CIV Students like Jessica Pinon- Rivera, visit: www.chefva.com