Testimonials

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Chris Lee Morrill and Santiago Reyes

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EPCC and the Small Business Development Center helped us so much in providing us with the tools and the necessities we need to grow as a business.

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Attending El Paso Community College was a recipe for an excellent foundation for EPCC Alumni Chris Lee Morrill and Santiago Reyes, the founders of Around the World Catering. This duo said EPCC gave them the ingredients for success – support and networking opportunities. “EPCC and the Small Business Development Center helped us so much in providing us with the tools and the necessities we need to grow as a business,” Morrill said. The vision for Around the World Catering began in Morrill’s kitchen where he and Reyes created a partnership by cooking dishes for family gatherings. Morrill’s love for cooking began when he was younger when he helped his mother and grandmother cook in the kitchen. He found it more enjoyable than playing outside. The 2002 Father Yermo High School graduate began his culinary education at Scottsdale Culinary Art Institute. In 2005 he returned to El Paso, where he in enrolled at EPCC. After leaving EPCC, Morrill’s culinary education continued in catering, and gourmet cooking and hotel and restaurant management studies offered by Thomason Education Direct in Scranton, Pennsylvania and the professional career development institute in Norcross, Georgia. Meanwhile Reyes – a 2008 graduate of Montwood High school – had enlisted in the Air Force where he placed in their College of Medicine where he was trained as an emergency medical technician in First Aid/Safety; and Labor and Delivery. A year and a half later he was medically discharged and returned to El Paso where he wanted to continue his education in cooking – something that was taught to him by his father. “When I came home, I wanted to make sure that there was a place where I could fulfill my dreams of one day opening a restaurant while, at the same time, being able to have a school locally where I could take care of my family,” Reyes said. “For that, EPCC helped me so much. It gave me the resources to develop and succeed as a chef.” He continues, “It's more than just going to class. It's building relationships, having people that work in your field currently and worked in your field before being able to show you the ropes and get you to where you need to be.” In 2011 the duo opened Around the World catering and quickly became a successful, gaining more than 25 calls per week. In 2013 their catering business obtained notable recognition by catering the Sun City Music Festival, grand openings for Ann Taylor LOFT and Nordstrom Rack at the Fountains of Farah and the United Bank of Paso Del Norte Downtown. More catering events came in Midland, Amarillo Texas, Ruidoso, and Santa Fe New Mexico and many others. “It's going strong,” Reyes said. “We're actually looking to open up a third location.” Since their successful launch Around the World Catering has offered jobs and internships to students from El Paso Community College. “Knowing that these students come in and they're expecting it not to be easy helps us a lot 'cause then we don't have to break them in and mold them,” Merrill said. “They know they're coming to work. We know they're coming trained. It helps us a lot. We just are thankful to the culinary department, EPCC in general, and the small business development center for helping us along the way and helping us grow.”

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Created at 4/17/2019 2:36 PM by Elliott, Lisa M.
Last modified at 7/28/2021 4:39 PM by Recoder, Deanna M.