Chef and Culinary Grad Finds Big Success by Thinking Small

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Michael Collantes can’t sit still.

That may explain why the Valencia grad (class of 2005) now operates three restaurants in Orlando and has a fourth concept in the planning stages. Not one of the restaurants is like the other; they’re all wildly different. From Filipino-American food to specialty pizzas to omakase sushi, the restaurants’ only common denominator is food — and Michael Collantes’ fascination with it.

Michael’s journey began right here at Valencia. After graduating from Winter Park High School and spending a year at a community college in Jacksonville, he transferred to our culinary program.

“When I graduated and the time came to choose a career path, I realized I didn’t have a big skillset,” he recalled. But the chef/instructors at Valencia made an impression. “I still remember the classes with Chef Ken (Bourgoin) and Chef Pierre (Pilloud)  — and Chef Pierre’s crazy stories,” he said recently.

His business acumen and gift for cooking have paid off. After working for several major restaurants across the country, Michael and his wife moved back to Orlando, their home town, where they’ve been enriching the local food scene since.

Learn more about Michael’s journey on the Valencia College News site.

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