Chef Cruz retires after decades of service

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From educating students about food to showcasing their talents, culinary arts teacher Debra Cruz, also known as Chef Cruz, has decided to retire from her teaching career after a dedicated 27 years of working at San Gabriel High School.

Prior to teaching, Cruz had a restaurant of her own called Sidney’s Ventura, where she found a greater love and passion for food. She then held cooking classes, which ultimately inspired her to teach culinary arts to students.

Throughout the years that Cruz has taught, her favorite memories were the times she interacted with her students, all the experiences she made, and the awards she and her students received.

“I’m going to miss all these kids—just seeing everybody grow and advance, ” Cruz said. “[I’ll miss] the different backgrounds of how my students cook; I have learned so much myself and it’s been fun to be able to share that with them and they’re still teaching me.”

She will also treasure the Matador Cafés that she organized with her students for 17 years and the commercial kitchen that she had the privilege of using for several years.

“I’m going to miss running the Café with all the kids and having them put on their chef jackets and walk around delivering all the beautiful food,” Cruz said.

After her retirement, Cruz plans to pursue her interest in crime scene investigation as well as work for and with celebrities, now that she will have more free time. Some celebrities that she worked for previously include Johnny Carson, Olivia Newton John, and Frank Sinatra.

“I’ll be doing these cool, private parties with celebrities again… I do a little demo and feed them lunch… I also look forward to traveling, I just love it,” Cruz said.

Her ultimate wish for her students is for them to work hard, take all the things they learned, and apply it in their everyday lives.

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