Cook at Conrad, Washington, D.C.
“In the kitchen, time is everything! It’s top quality, very efficient, and every little detail is important.” says Oscar Leguia, a cook at the Conrad Hilton, one of DC’s newest 5 star luxury hotels. He works behind the scenes prepping and cooking food for elegant events, banquets and professional gatherings. “You’ve got to be really fast. We’re dealing in large quantities and you need to stay focused.” Though it can be high pressure, long hours, and demanding work, Oscar loves the challenge. “All the chefs are young, really creative and everyone on the team loves to cook. I’m learning so much everyday!”
Several years ago, Oscar didn’t know what he wanted to do. Living with his family, who immigrated from Peru, he was working various odd jobs and helping his dad in construction and remodeling work. But as a child, cooking was always at the back of his mind. “I always felt at home and happy in the kitchen,” and when he heard about La Cocina VA, it seemed like a great opportunity.
In 2017, Oscar enrolled in the culinary training program at LCVA. He managed the full-time, 9-5 commitment, along with working evenings at George Mason. “I learned so much from the program, and from my classmates too, they really inspired me.”He worked with other students, who despite many life challenges, were changing their lives. For many years Oscar sometimes struggled with life decisions and anxiety. “Everyone who worked at LCVA was a good role model for me. They helped me learn to step back, get a game plan, and let go of some of my concerns… I learned to be patient with myself and that anything is possible.”
Now with a good paying job, health benefits, and lots of opportunity for growth, Oscar has a vision for the future. “In 10 years, I’d like to be a Sous Chef or Chef at Hilton. And then hopefully one day open a place of my own… Maybe a fusion Peruvian/Japanese restaurant, that’d be fun!”