Our American Dream: A Chef Cooks Up A New Life

In all fields of endeavor, across the United States, Latinos are working to uphold their place in American society. Fox News Latino is proud to present "Our American Dream" – a series of snapshots and profiles of Latino success stories made in America.

Moises Carranza is an example that dogged determination will get you anywhere you want to go.

“I knew I needed it to focus on what I wanted to do,” says Carranza, adding that memories of his humble days back in Michoacán, Mexico, helping his father at his ranch, are still vivid.

In 1972, with hope of a better life for his children, Carranza’s father decided to emigrate from native land with his family to the United States.

"He didn’t want us to grow up with the sun on our back, because we lived off the land," Carranza said, who at that time was only 7-years-old and remembers living in a two-bedroom house with his mother and nine brothers and sisters, while his father picked up the trash for the City of Santa Ana.

Carranza admits it was never his dream to become a chef. In fact, he wanted to join the military like his older brother. But at 17-years-old he got a job as a dishwasher at the Plaza Inn at Disneyland, California. He says, at first he didn’t feel he was in ‘The Happiest Place on Earth.’

“Back in the 70’s there weren’t a lot of Hispanics working here. It was difficult. I felt out of place,” Carranza said.

He spent 15 years working in various positions at the same restaurant.

“I didn’t take this job seriously. It was just a check for me,” admitting that he would probably still be doing the same job if it hadn’t been for a food competition that changed his life.

“While helping a chef, I saw the art of food and that passion for cooking exploded within me. I said I want to do that,” he added.

Carranza learned the hard way that anything is attainable through hard work. He enrolled in culinary school at Cypress College in Orange County and for six years worked two jobs.

“I would work eight hours at Disney, sometimes overtime and I would go to my second job, but that was strictly so I could learn and achieve my goal of becoming a chef,” he said.

His sacrifices paid off and one of Carranza’s professors chose him to be part of a culinary program in The Lausanne Hotel School in Switzerland, made possible through the help of Disney’s education reimbursement program. The program, designed to help employees who study to learn more about their craft, with Disney paying half of the cost, allowed him to afford a trip to Europe and learn the art of gourmet food.

Carranza said he’s living two dreams: the dream of living in the land of opportunities and being the chef of the most popular restaurant at Disneyland, The Blue Bayou, which is located inside the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.

He says that not even in his wildest dreams did he think he would work at Disneyland.

“When I was a little boy back in Michoacán, my father would travel to the U.S and would bring us pictures of Disney and I thought it was another world,” he recalled.

Some of the most successful chefs in the U.S are ambitious immigrants like Carranza. The main reason for this trend, says the “Michoacanense,” is, unlike back home, the abundance of opportunity.

“I applied for the position of chef twice and didn’t get it. That grew my passion for food and my profession even more," he said. "I knew I had to work harder.”

Besides cooking, Carranza’s passion is teaching. So his goal is to become en executive chef for the Disneyland resort and overlook various restaurants.

"I had a mentor and that helped me a lot to succeed," a grateful Carranza said. "I want to help others achieve their dreams."

Follow us on twitter.com/foxnewslatino
Like us at facebook.com/foxnewslatino