Chef Tina Luu, M.A.Ed. is a culinary arts educator for The International Culinary Schools at The Art Institutes. She is a graduate of California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and got her start in the kitchen at an early age, cooking by her mother’s side. She has worked in restaurants professionally since the age of 15; this life education helped pay for her academic education.
After graduating from University of California, Santa Cruz with a bachelor of arts in psychology, she worked in management consulting for 2 years before deciding to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Chef Luu moved to San Francisco and landed at Bradley Ogden’s One Market Restaurant as a line cook. Soon after, she enrolled into the AOS (Associates of Occupational Studies) program at CCA. She then went on to open Hawthorne Lane (San Francisco) and Jeremiah Tower’s Stars Restaurant, Palo Alto as pastry assistant under Pastry Chef Donna Meadows. From there, she moved on to the intense kitchens of Aqua (San Francisco) and its sibling restaurant Charles Nob Hill (San Francisco) where she fine-tuned her culinary skills under Chef Michael Mina.
In 1996, Chef Luu was given the opportunity to travel to Asia to work with the 3-month-old Stars Restaurant, Singapore. She spent two years in Singapore as pastry chef overseeing menus for both Stars Restaurant and Stars Café, as well as supplying pastries and fine baked goods to eight Spinelli Coffee Company retail outlets. During this time she traveled to destinations such as Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam exploring culture and cuisine. In addition, she has traveled extensively through Paris, Lyon, Madrid, Barcelona, London, Ireland, Scotland, Portugal and the Pays Basque of France and Spain. When Stars planned to open in Seattle, Washington, she returned to the United States. She spent two years as pastry chef and sous chef of Stars Bar & Dining, Seattle where she and a highly skilled team of chefs produced their acclaimed Puget Sound cuisine.
From Seattle, Chef Luu returned to California as executive pastry chef of Sonoma Mission Inn and Spa, a four-star, four-diamond destination resort in the picturesque wine country of Northern California. There, she and her staff supplied the hotel and its four venues plus banquet facilities with pastries and desserts morning, noon, and night.
Chef Luu has consulted as pastry chef for Alan Wong’s Restaurant on King Street in Honolulu, Hawaii; lectured on the fundamentals of baking and pastry for Culinary Institute of the Pacific—a program of the University of Hawaii; and contributed as writer and photographer for Gusto Magazine, a culinary lifestyle publication promoting eating, drinking, and living in Hawaii.
In 2002, Chef Luu returned to her hometown of San Diego, California and took a position as a chef-instructor at the newly opened campus of The Art Institute. Over the successive years, she and a faculty of like-minded culinary educators has helped shape a culinary arts program that has grown from an associates in culinary arts to associates and diploma programs in baking and pastry arts, as well as bachelors programs in culinary management.
Chef Luu continues to be active in her community volunteering for events and programs involving Slow Food Urban San Diego, Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, San Diego Food Bank, ARTS, Passionfish, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Cook’s Confab, and Olivewood Gardens Learning Center. She also consults with culinary venues across the United States in all areas of pastry arts. In her spare time, she is a “SuperDiner” for San Diego Union Tribune and writes weekly in Night & Day.