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Wilfredo Barajas


  • Diploma L'artt de la Patisserie - The French Pastry School
  • B.S. - University of Illinois at Chicago

What are the strengths of the Secchia Institute's program?

The Secchia Institute for Culinary Education program recognizes the needs of the industry, it understands that future chefs need to be more than just great cooks. Our program prepares students to be technicians, problem solvers, and critical thinkers.

First, we focus on theory; understanding the principles of food science is fundamental, a solid understanding of raw ingredients and composition of food leads to a deeper understanding of fundamental techniques.

Second, we go beyond demos, our primary focus is on hands-on learning. Classes are set up to mimic real-life settings, where students are expected to multitask, problem solve, and drill techniques.

Third, the Secchia Institute, certified through ACFEF with exemplary status, offers a valuable education at an affordable price.

What do you like best about being a professor at the Secchia Institute?

As a professor at the Secchia Institute, I enjoy the academic atmosphere. Our standards for excellence are high, for students and professors. We understand how valuable professors are for the program. Thus the college provides many incentives and encourages professors to continue their education. Currently, I am pursuing a Master of Science in Career and Technical Education.

What do you know now that you wished you knew when you first started out?

Equipped with a certificate in L’Art de la Patisserie from The French Pastry School and a B.S. in finance, I entered the culinary world without knowing what to expect.

I was a career changer, and my only experience was of a corporate financial analyst, but I soon realized my previous education gave me an edge over other chefs. I was able to understand systems, organization, deadlines, and communicate effectively. While most entry-level chefs struggled with day-to-day basic business practices, I was able to focus on food science, techniques, and presentations. 

What I know now that I didn't realize before is that education is the key to success. Future chefs have to be well rounded, cooking skills are just not enough. As a chef you are a valuable asset and companies are acutely aware of it. Chefs are mentors, artists, educators, managers, business savvy, and above all, great cooks.

Education is real power, for that reason, I motivate students to seek higher education. Here at the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education, we encourage students to go beyond certificates or associate degrees, our partnerships with Universities such as Ferris State University gives our students the option to seek bachelor's and master's degrees.

What is your current obsession?

As an instructor, my current obsession is to be a great educator. I come straight from some of the best kitchens in the industry such as Aria Resort and Casino (Las Vegas) and The Peninsula Hotel (Chicago). Along the way, I have had the privilege to work with many professional Master Chefs, Bakers, and World Champions.

I bring this wealth of experience to Secchia Institute and enjoy sharing it with my students. I share my stories, techniques, and all of the ins and outs of what’s currently happening in our industry. As an educator, my primary goal is to make sure students have a solid foundation to be competitive.

Who is your hero? Why?

Many chefs have their own top three prerequisites for success; mine are passion, education, and support. My heroes are all the people that have contributed to these prerequisites.

First, my passion comes from my parents; they have inspired me to dream big, have a positive perception of the world, and above all to have a strong work ethic.

Second, in education, my heroes have been my teachers and mentors. I have been very fortunate in my career to have mentors, which have propelled my career to new heights.

Third, support is a crucial ingredient for success; my wife has been a huge pillar of support in my career. She has traveled the country with me from Houston to Las Vegas, Chicago, and now Grand Rapid, Michigan. 

Courses taught:

  • CA 104 Bakery
  • CA 204 Pastry
  • CA 209 Principles of Food Science
  • CA 210 Principles of Baking Science

Get a Taste of Success!

Contact me with any questions that you have to secure your ticket to an exciting career in the hospitality industry. 

Picture of Wilfredo Barajas
Assistant Professor
(616) 234-3712
117 Wisner Bottrall Applied Technology Center