Chef Jaime Lepe ’08, The Next Generation
CIA Alumni Bio
Jaime Lepe, Jr. ’08 grew up in the restaurant business. His father is president and treasurer of JML Mexican Restaurant, Inc. in Pomona, CA, which owns Mexico Lindo and Tropical Mexico restaurants. “Every day after school, I would be at the restaurant until closing,” says Jaime, director of operations for the organization. “The cooks and waitresses were my day care. After my homework was done, I’d peel potatoes or shrimp to help out my dad. It’s a family-run business, with all of us invested and involved in its success.”
Education is the Key
Jaime’s father, who had no formal culinary education of his own, was determined that his eldest son attend college. “My dad worked hard all of his life,” Jaime explains, “and wanted his children to get the best education.” Jaime first earned a degree in hotel restaurant management from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. “After graduation, I went back to work with my parents,” he says. “I felt there was more I could do to increase business, and started looking into culinary programs that would expand on my hospitality degree. I checked out a couple of schools, but found myself returning to the CIA’s website.”
The Right Amount of Time
One feature of the program was particularly important to Jaime: the time factor. “I wanted something quick so I could get back to work as soon as possible,” he says. “I was eager to identify significant areas of improvement for our restaurants, thereby expanding our business and, ultimately, giving my dad a chance to step back from the day-to-day.” Once he was immersed in school, other benefits came to light. “There were only three culinary courses in my program at Cal Poly, so I was looking forward to spending time in the kitchen,” Jaime says. “At the CIA, you’re cooking every day and the chefs are always on you about attention to detail and timing. culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, CA. He is the director of operations for JML Mexican Restaurants in Pomona, CA.