Culinary Resident Bites into All UnionWest Has to Offer

Cooking Downtown, Budget-Friendly Tips, and More

Posted Friday, January 17, 2020 @ 11:49 AM

Valencia College resident Alex Jackomino is among the first students to experience UnionWest’s state-of-the-art culinary facility, which spans over four floors of the downtown building. Jackomino originally planned to pursue law, but was drawn to the Culinary Management major because for him, “law was too impersonal. Every culture and religion disagrees on something. Food, however, is celebrated across so many cultures and religions. It’s the one thing that brings people together.”

He discovered his passion for culinary arts through several interactive experiences. Most notably, he got to cook for the famous Blue Angels during their world-class SUN ‘n FUN event in Lakeland, Florida. These days, he can be found working at Amorette’s Patisserie in Disney Springs or cooking something new at UnionWest. The Valencia College Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program, which received a $1.5 million donation from Walt Disney World Resort, provides cutting edge equipment such as marble table tops for tempering chocolate, and a beverage bar for an upcoming mixology course. Jackomino specifically loves the gas burners that the culinary program students use, and noted that the induction stoves found in his classes were custom-made specifically for this program.

As a savory enthusiast, he loves to create seafood dishes from the comfort of his residence hall. “The community kitchen is the best place to cook. I’ve been able to cook everything I need.” Some of Jackomino’s favorite dish creations include enchiladas with salsa verde and a chicken fajita pizza experiment with a homemade cheese sauce. During his first semester, he signed up for meal kit delivery service HelloFresh as a convenient way to test different recipes. These days, he takes full advantage of the local Lake Eola’s farmers market each Sunday and recommends it for any student who appreciates fresh ingredients.

Jackomino had some delicious, budget-friendly tips to share with his fellow residents at UnionWest. “I think every student should invest in risotto! You can make a lot of it with just a few ingredients. For students interested in a homemade pizza night, I recommend using fresh grated cheese, as pre-grated cheese won’t cook as fast as your dough and will cause your crust to blacken. Plant-based meals are very popular right now, and sweet potato quesadillas are a tasty and affordable meal for students to make, too. I also often enjoy steaks for about $3 a piece! I do this by purchasing a whole cut eye round steak for $30 at the grocery store. I then cut it into 8-10 decent sized steaks. The key is to then submerge the steaks in a pineapple blend (with the skin still attached) for about 45 minutes to naturally tenderize the meat. Once you wash off the pineapple mixture and season the steak to your liking, you’re left with a sirloin-quality steak for a fraction of the price. ”

Jackomino’s dream internship would be in either Modena, Italy under Chef Massimo or Chicago’s Alinea restaurant under Chef Grant Achatz. He wants to open his own series of restaurants someday.