Cooking Up a Successful Career
Wake Tech Class of: 2014
“Wake Tech laid the foundation for my career and changed my life.”
— Aaron Stumb
Aaron Stumb is cooking up quite a reputation as executive chef at Durham’s highly-successful Mez Contemporary Mexican Restaurant! He’s been running the kitchen at Mez, part of the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group, since it opened six years ago, and he also teaches classes at Southern Season in Chapel Hill. Before joining Mez, Aaron learned all about kitchen management while working for a national corporate restaurant group. He also worked at several Triangle restaurants – but his first taste of culinary arts was at Wake Tech.
Aaron enrolled at Wake Tech in the mid 90s without a career goal – but that changed the day he read a brochure describing the college’s culinary program. He began taking classes and quickly realized he had more than a passing interest: “I found a drive and passion for cooking at Wake Tech. My instructors opened my eyes to the culinary world.” Aaron excelled in the kitchen, and in 1996, graduated with an associate’s degree. Soon after, he got his first job in a restaurant kitchen, and he has been working (and moving up) steadily ever since.
In addition to his demanding job, Aaron is a devoted father, an adjunct instructor in Wake Tech’s Culinary Arts program, and an active member of the program’s advisory board. He has also provided co-op opportunities for Wake Tech students at Mez, and has hired several graduates. “We have Wake Tech grads sprinkled throughout the company,” Aaron says. “I know exactly where to go for talented chefs!” Aaron has also been the driving force behind Chapel Hill Restaurant Group’s support of Wake Tech’s annual Culinary Arts Showcase. “Aaron’s continued involvement in our program as Advisory Board member, employer, and instructor has helped our program grow,” says Jeff Hadley, Culinary Arts Department Head. “It’s been a pleasure to watch him mature from a young culinary student to Executive Chef of one of the Triangle's highest-volume dining establishments!”
Aaron was recognized for his many contributions to Wake Tech, as the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni reward. “I am very humbled by this recognition. I am happy to give back to Wake Tech – the college laid the foundation for my career and changed my life.”