COVINA – South Hills High School senior and culinary enthusiast Nathan Leao discovered a talent for creating delectable meals after enrolling in the school’s Culinary Arts Specialty Pathway, a course that put him on the road to earn a $2,500 cash scholarship from the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP).

Leao, who had no experience in the kitchen prior to taking South Hills High’s culinary classes, was awarded the scholarship after participating in the C-CAP competition on March 25, where he created a chicken dish that impressed the professional judges.

“I wanted to learn to cook so that I can cook for myself when I’m out there doing things on my own,” Leao said. “I found that I really love cooking through attending culinary arts classes – they showed me that there was so much more I could do than just make the basics.”

Shortly after Leao entered the Culinary Arts Career Technical Education (CTE) pathway at South Hills, he expressed interest in joining C-CAP, an organization that helps middle- and high-school students across the United States develop culinary, job and life skills.

“Nathan is very self-taught and self-ambitious,” Culinary Arts instructor Chef Anna Redd said. “He surprised me, and when I see him working, he’s absolutely amazing. He’s a natural in the kitchen.”
Through his involvement with C-CAP, Leao has participated in a number of catering events, including the Masters of Taste Event and El Torrero at the Pasadena Rose Bowl. He has also received several offers to become an apprentice at well-regarded culinary institutions like the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles.

“The Careers through Culinary Arts Program really helped me get prepared, and Chef Redd has given me advice the whole way,” Leao said. “All of the competitors did a great job, and the event proved that we can do anything we put our minds to.”

Leao has been accepted to University of California, Berkeley, where he plans to major in mathematics while continuing to explore the culinary arts.

“Our outstanding Career Technical Education programs open up new worlds for our students,” Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Eminhizer said. “Witnessing Nathan discover his talent for cooking through our C-CAP program, and then go on to receive this recognition has been a true pleasure for our CTE family. We are excited to see where his passions and talent take him.”


LEAO_C-VUSD_1: While attending culinary classes at South Hills High School, senior Nathan Leao participated in the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) and received a $2,500 scholarship.

LEAO_C-VUSD_2: South Hills High School senior Nathan Leao received a $2,500 scholarship from the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) that will go toward his education at University of California, Berkeley.