January 7, 2011
Manuel Treviño (B.B.A. ’96) has been on the chopping block before. When he was a contestant on the fourth season of Bravo TV’s “Top Chef,” he and 15 other
young chefs from around the world battled for the title of “Top Chef.” Manuel didn’t win the competition, but he’s grateful for the opportunity.
“Top Chef was a terrific experience,” he said. “It reminded me of why I got
into this business in the first place—the passion and love that I have for
Treviño is now executive chef at Travertine in New York City, but he started at the bottom, helping his family out in the kitchen in his childhood home in Laredo. When he came to San Antonio to attend St. Mary’s, he started working in professional kitchens.
“I always had a real passion for the kitchen and started cooking at an early age,” he said.
After St. Mary’s, Treviño attended the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont. Then in 1998, he moved to New York City, where his culinary career took off. At the famous Babbo in NYC, he had the opportunity to work with Mario Batali. “Mario is a great person to learn from in the kitchen,” Treviño said. “He’s a commanding presence and so full of knowledge. I know that my time spent cooking with him was invaluable for my career.”
After some of his coworkers encouraged him to audition, Treviño landed a spot on “Top Chef.” He was the fourth “cheftestant” asked to “pack your knives and go” during the fourth season, but fans of the show still remember him.
“When I get recognized, it’s a very humbling experience, especially when I am approached by young cooks just getting started in the field,” he said.
Even though his life took him on a different path, Treviño never regrets getting a degree in business at St. Mary’s.
“My business degree has given me the tools to go beyond the line,” he said. “It allows me to run a successful restaurant as a business as well as a successful kitchen.”
Transitioning from a business path to a culinary career taught Treviño some lessons about the importance of keeping doors open. “Never discount any avenue. Network with everyone you possibly can. Always keep your eyes peeled for the next big opportunity.”