May 2024

Culinary Arts students design wedding cakes: Meet Madelyn

From multiple layers to decadent piping and icing, Austin Community College District (ACC) Culinary Arts students showed off their final projects for the wedding cake class. The program hosted a free community tasting on Thursday, May 2.

For the final project, the students were tasked with making a wedding-style buttercream cake but were challenged to use a nontraditional wedding cake style. Decoration themes included under the sea, succulents, R2-D2, and more.

One of those students was Madelyn. She started at ACC as a Graphic Design student but changed to study Baking and Pastry Art, which she expects to complete this fall. Her cake was inspired by the 70s aesthetic and shag carpeting.

Three tiered cake colored in orange, green, brown, and yellow Four tiered white cake with top layers angeled Four tiered chocolate cake

Why did you choose ACC?

It seemed like the most affordable option. I never wanted to go to university, and my high school mentors highly recommended ACC.

What made you want to pursue culinary arts?

When I started ACC out of high school, my main motivator was getting a degree that could make me money. I liked art and being creative so graphic design is what I went with. Over halfway through that degree plan, I realized that I would rather be happy and enjoy what I did in life rather than worry about how much money it would make me. I always loved to bake, so I took a stab at the Culinary Arts program, and I’m glad I did. I’ve learned more than I could’ve ever learned and met so many great people in my classes.

Can you tell me a bit about this class, and your cake? What was the inspiration behind it?

Wedding Cakes is exactly as described: a class about decorating wedding cakes. Half of the semester was spent creating a “dummy cake,” a styrofoam cake covered in royal icing (see photo below). The last half was about buttercream cakes, which would be our final. Ironically enough, it couldn’t be themed as a wedding cake, so I went with the 70s. Specifically, “shag carpet.” I wanted a cake with a lot of color and texture, and although the colors didn’t come out as I had planned, I think the theme still translated well.

What has been one of your favorite experiences at ACC?

Everything about the pies and tarts class–and don’t tell her I said this–but Chef [Stephanie] Herrington greatly impacted me this semester. She helped me find my confidence, and I’m so glad I learned from her.

What are your future career and educational goals?

Not to sound cliché, but I never really saw myself graduating. Not that I couldn’t do it, but it felt like one of those things I would never attain. Only during this semester did I realize how close I was to finishing, seeing all my hard work and long hours pay off. I’m hoping to work somewhere I love and where I can bring a smile to others’ faces. Everyone deserves a bit of kindness, and I went to help spread it.

What would you tell someone considering applying for college?

Apply for scholarships and financial aid. There are so many scholarships out there that can help you achieve your goals without breaking the bank…mostly. A lot of them are just never applied for!

Be kind to others, believe in yourself, and always aim for happiness. You only live once, so make this life one for the books.


October 2023

Fonda San Miguel Scholarship Recipient Update!

ACC Culinary Arts interns Nicolle and Jacob recently created their own menu items for Fonda San Miguel- both of which sold out in a matter of days! Each student researched Oaxacan dishes to create their own version of what they discovered. Take a look at their beautiful creations below!


Molotes de Oaxaca, by Nicolle Martinez Rivera: Fried masa molotes, filled with chorizo rojo and potatoes. Served with a creamy avocado sauce, cabbage, sour cream, and queso fresco.


Vegan Passion Fruit and Coconut Nicuatole, by Jacob Pham: Flan-like dessert with masa, coconut milk, cinnamon, and passion fruit.


August 2023

Meet the First-Ever Recipients of the Fonda San Miguel Restaurant and Austin Community College District Culinary Scholarship 

Introducing Jacob Pham and Nicolle Rivera Martinez! When the Fall Semester begins on Monday, August 21st, the two ACC District students will be the first to reap the rewards of a groundbreaking career scholarship agreement that serves to prepare students to become future leaders in the culinary world.

This video clip shows Fonda San Miguel’s Executive, Chef Blanca Zesati, leading them on a tour of the kitchen where they will begin working next week when the Fall Semester begins. The video clip also includes SOT with Blanca Zesati, Executive Chef, and Nicolle Rivera Martinez, ACC Student, in Spanish.

The scholarships are a tribute to the legacies of Diana Kennedy and Miguel Ravago, Fonda San Miguel’s co-founder and Executive Chef who died in 2017. Kennedy was a world-famous authority of Mexican cuisine, who died in 2022, at the age of 99. She was a close friend of Ravago and Fonda San Miguel owner, Tom Gilliland. Gilliland says, “Jacob and Nicolle will continue the legacy of Miguel and Diana who both believed in sharing knowledge and elevating true Mexican food to its deserved place at the top of world culinary rankings.” He adds, “This is just the start of our collaboration with ACC to support students interested in building culinary careers.”

About the first-ever ACC District Career Scholarship Recipients

From Puerto Rico, Nicolle Riviera Martinez is bilingual and a graduate of the University of Idaho where she earned a Hospitality degree. She hopes her hands-on kitchen experience at Fonda San Miguel will set her on a path to opening her own restaurant featuring the Puerto Rican cuisine she came to love and appreciate as a child.

Jacob Pham, born in Kentucky and raised in New Braunfels, attended the University of Texas at Austin.  His love for baking and cooking grew from time spent on his Vietnamese grandmother’s side in the family kitchen. His goal is to become a respected chef who introduces others to the unique and authentic dishes of his Vietnamese culture.

Congratulations, Nicolle and Jacob!!

April 2023

Fonda San Miguel Culinary Arts Scholarship: The local, iconic restaurant donated $10,000 to fund two all-inclusive ACC Career Scholars Scholarships


2023 That Takes The Cake Show Winners!

Congratulations to our students who participated in the 2023 That Takes the Cake! Sugar Arts and Cake Show and Competition.

Tasting Competition:                                                                                                                                                                                   – Katlyn Bauman – 1st Place – Chocolate (Candy) and Overall Best In Show Taste                                                                   – Pamela Bradford – 3rd Place – Holiday Breakfast

Culinary Student Division:                                                                                                                                                                         – Sofia Altamirano – 1st Place Tiered Novelty Cake
– Morgan Helmueller – 2nd Place Tiered Novelty Cake                                                                                                                      – Katlyn Bauman – 2nd Place Tiered Wedding Cake                                                                                                                          – Pamela Bradford – 3rd Place Tiered Wedding Cake                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

 We are so proud of you!

January 2023

ACC Culinary Arts Advisory Board Member, Tavel Bristol-Joseph and ACC Culinary Arts Alumni, Kareem El-Ghayesh, were nominated as 2023 James Beard Award Semifinalists in the Best Chef: Texas category

Historic Upscale Mexican Restaurant Cooks Up Collaboration With Austin Community College

October 2022

Two ACC Culinary Arts Students Are Named To The US Foods Scholars Program
Congratulations to Emily Backus and Shyla Underwood!
You can find out more information about the US Food Scholars Program here:


ACC Culinary Arts Alumni Chef Christopher Krinsky, is opening his restaurant in 2023!

April 2022

Austin American Statesman: Austin Community College celebrates opening of new building at Highland Campus

2022 That Takes The Cake Show Winners!

Congratulations to our students who participated in the 2022 That Takes the Cake! Sugar Arts and Cake Competition!

Tasting Competition:                                                                                                                                                                                  – Rosalind Jordon – 2nd Place – Cookie
– Rosalind Jordon – 2nd Place – Common Ingredient – Citrus

Culinary Student Division:
– Alexandra Membrano – 2nd Place Tiered Novelty Cake
– Liath Appleton – 3rd Place Tiered Novelty Cake                                                                                                                                – Rosalind Jordon – Tiered Novelty Cake
– Irma Hammond – 2nd Place Tiered Wedding Cake
– Ivis Garcia – 3rd Place Tiered Wedding Cake                                                                                                                                    – Katie King – Tiered Wedding Cake                                                                                                                                                      – Rosalind Jordon – 2nd Place Small Bites

 We are so proud of you!


October 2021

KVUE News : Two ACC Culinary Students Earn Scholarships for Thousands of Dollars

August 2021

Two ACC Culinary Arts Students Are Named To The US Foods Scholars Program

Austin Chronicle – Kitchen Reno: Inside ACC’s Culinary Arts Expansion

April 2021

Austin chef Tavel Bristol starts scholarship and mentorship program for Austin Community College culinary students

January 2021

ACC Newsroom – ACC Highland Campus Phase2 Opens for Spring 2021 Semester

Community Impact – Second Phase of ACC Highland Campus Opens in Central Austin
KXAN – Austin Community College’s New Highland Campus Welcomes Some Students

December 2020

Culinary Department, HLC 2000, walk-thru video.

October 2020

ACC Highland Campus Phase 2

March 2020

Seeing inside Highland Building 2000: Departments moving in check out new digs

December 2019

See our Riverbats Cafe and “A Day in the Life of David Greenfield.”
Click here to watch the video.

October 2019

One of our students was featured in a spot on Studio 512 to promote our upcoming Boots and Bats Gala!

Check it out here.

March 2019

Austin American Statesman visited our Breads and Rolls class last Friday in anticipation of the SXSW Skill-Up showcase.
Students were making rye sourdough loaves and focaccia with a biga pre-ferment.
See the article here.

February 2019

This is a video that was made after Susan Notter’s workshop at the ACC Culinary kitchens!

Here is a video from the Sliced and Diced Taco Challenge, a competition for AISD students that took place at our ACC kitchens!

January 2019

Austin Community College (ACC) hosted professional pastry chefs from across Texas for a special one-day workshop learning the art of edible works with prominent pastry chef Susan Notter.

Chef Notter’s professional accomplishments include winning a gold medal at the 2000 Culinary Olympics and being named one of the Top 10 Pastry Chefs in the U.S. by Pastry Arts & Design Magazine. She has also appeared on several Food Network shows, including “Food Network Challenge,” “Cupcake Wars,” and “Halloween Wars” and is now the pastry arts program director at the Pennsylvania School of Culinary Arts.

“I learned about Susan Notter when I was in culinary school,” says Ellen Sternau, ACC Culinary Arts associate professor. “She owned the International School of Confectionary Arts in Switzerland. I was excited to meet her, and see what I could learn from her.”

Chefs participating in the workshop made delicate treats including fine chocolates and bonbons.

Sternau says she will share what she learned with her students.
“Teaching them the importance of being able to purchase such high quality, ready-to-use products is important and useful!”

October 2018

It was recently brought to our attention that we were named #2 on a list of the 10 Best Culinary Schools in Texas, according to

Spectrum news visited us in our Riverbats Cafe kitchen while doing a story about the boil-water-advisory in Austin.
See the video featuring footage of our kitchen here.
Read a short article about our culinary students dealing with the water restriction here.

Get a glimpse inside our Riverbats Cafe Kitchen here!

July 2018

World Chocolate Day, July 7
Check it out!

February 2018

ACC Culinary Students Take Gold at That Takes the Cake Show 2018:
Congratulations to Wara Pawawongsak
Denise Basore
Mayra Vargas
Troy Hernandez
Ivonne Gomez
Kristin Wonderly
And thanks to all students who participated! We are so proud of you!
Watch the video

April 2017

Culinary and Pastry Arts students win at national competition
Watch Recap

February 2017

Congratulations to our students who participated in the 2017 That Takes the Cake! Sugar Arts Show and Cake Competition! Student Division:
– Dacia Schoolfield – 1st Place Tiered Novelty Cake
– Gabby Arvizo – 2nd Place Tiered Novelty Cake
– Karina Calderon – 1st Place Tiered Wedding Cake
– Bryan Dorall – 2nd Place Tiered Wedding Cake
– Jeanna Carlisle – 3rd Place Tiered Wedding Cake
– MarYSol Ledesma – 2nd Place Single Tiered Cake – Fondant
– Marisa Barrera-Marquez – Tiered Wedding Cake
– Lauren Johnson – Tiered Wedding Cake
– Carson Nunez – Tiered Wedding Cake
– Fouzia Boudjennad – Tiered Wedding Cake
– Denise Basore – 1st Place Specialty Technique
– Wara Pawawongsak – 1st Place Tasting Competition – Cookie
– Alexandra Hughes – 1st Place Tasting Competition – Common Ingredient – Yeast

November 2016

goes out to our super talented culinary team that entered the
14th Annual Paella Lovers United Competition over the week.
Nadia Rodriguez, John Silva, Stephanie Calk, and Ismael Sanchez
won 2nd Place out of 27 teams!
Special thanks going out to Chef David Waggoner
for helping our student reach their paella potential!
If you see these team members strutting around campus,
make sure you give them a pat on the back or a high-five.
This was their first time competing at this event and as a team.
We are so super excited and extremely proud of your hard work and accomplishment!


December 2015

Culinary Schools and the Reality of Food Service


July 22, 2015

The Pastry Arts Study Abroad program and students have been featured in the Community College Daily online publication.

June 17, 2015

Riverbats Cafe will be open every Tuesday and Thursday starting June 23, 2015 for the Summer 2015. Please visit the Riverbats Cafe webpage for more information and weekly special menu.

March 11, 2015

Student Staffed Restaurants
Our student-staffed restaurants are in full swing and Fox News has featured our program.
The Rivebats Cafe is open every Wednesday from 11:30am to 1:00pm through May 6, 2015. Bistro 3158 is open every Thursday through May 7, 2015 with reservation seating starting at 6:00pm. Seating is limited.