Student Careers: Chris Nutzman & Culinary Arts


In his kitchen, Nutzman cuts apples to bake a pie for his friend.

Mercy Soly, Media & Features Editor

 According to Walden University, about 30% of American high school students will be employed sometime in their high school careers. Even though individual work motives vary, being a full-time student with a part-time job can both reap benefits and create challenges. 

For junior Chris Nutzman, his work is a lot more than just work. It’s his passion.

Nutzman has been cooking almost all of his life. He fondly remembers early childhood memories cooking and baking with his grandmother.

“I would always be decorating cookies that my grandmother on my dad’s side would make, and from that, I eventually started making the ingredients with her,” Nutzman said. “The cookies were always awfully decorated, as you would expect from a 5-year-old.”

Nutzman’s mom, Sheri Nutzman, recalls his interest in the kitchen even as a child.

“He’s always liked being in the kitchen ever since he was little enough to walk around,” Sheri Nutzman said. “I think that he got it from my mother, his grandmother, who wanted to be a personal chef, but she never got to realize that dream before she passed away.”

As he grew up, Nutzman became more interested in the culinary world. 

“I started making various things around the house and watching people cook. I did whatever I could to try and imitate that,” Nutzman said. “I remember around sixth grade was when I decided I wanted cooking to be more than just a hobby. I wanted to turn it into a career.”

Being accepted into the Academies of Loudoun culinary program has not only furthered Nutzman’s skill level as a culinary trainee, but it also landed him his current job.

“I work at Capital One arena under Aramark, the company that does all the food for the Capital One arena,” Nutzman said. 

Aramark is a worldwide American food service that operates for clients in areas including education, healthcare, business and prisons.

Through his Academies of Loudoun teacher, Nutzman was able to land a job as a cook for the suites and catering at Capital One. The  job title entails that Nutzman cooks for the seven clubs, 140 suites, the players’ families, and the press box at the arena. 

“I got the job from my Academies of Loudoun instructor because her husband is actually the executive chef there, and she pulled me aside and said I should actually apply because she thought I was really good,” Nutzman said. “I ended up applying, and a few weeks later I got an interview, and then after the interview, I heard back from them saying they wanted me. So I did all the paperwork, and I got the job and I was super excited.”

Nutzman’s job allows him to work on the weekends, giving him a strict time frame during the week for schoolwork and other commitments. 

“Having a job gives you less time for schoolwork, so yes, it is challenging,” he said. “But it does teach you really good skills, like stop procrastinating and get it done.” 

Nutzman drives a 45-minute commute each weekend to Wiehle-Reston Station. He then gets on the metro for an additional 45 minutes to D.C., switching onto another train in between for another 5 minutes before arriving at Capital Arena.

“On prep days, I am usually there from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.,” Nutzman said. “But then if it’s a service day, so if there’s an event, depending on when the event is, for example if it’s a 7 o’clock game, I’ll be there from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.”

One day, Nutzman would like to own his own restaurant.

“Starting off, I would love to build up from the bottom and gain as much knowledge as I can and progressively get promoted. In the next 20 years, I would love to be an executive chef somewhere before I go off and start my own restaurant, and then primarily hire the chefs and actually run the business side, which is completely different from the kitchen,” Nutzman said. “It interests me so much, just like the restaurant field, so I’d love to get experience everywhere.”

In fact, close friend and fellow culinary student at the Academies, junior James Compher, believes that Nutzman’s potential in the culinary world is promising. 

“Honestly, I can see Chris as sous chef or chef in less than 20 years,” Compher said. “I can see him running his own kitchen because of how responsible he is and how dedicated he is with what he wants to do with his life. I would be happy to work for that man in 20 years because I know he has a future in this (culinary) industry.”

— James Compher, 11

Their friendship started in the Blue Ridge Middle School band room after learning they both played drums and both had a love for cooking.

“What we would do was have these little competitions, it was kind of stupid, but he and I would name a food and then we would have to one up each other on how we made that food,” Compher said. 

Compher is always able to come to Nutzman with questions.

“He is kind of chill in a way that you wouldn’t expect, but you can always talk to him and ask him questions, especially about cooking.”

Compher describes Nutzman as “determined” and “driven.”

“Chris has this drive to just keep going, and we all do, but it’s obsessive for him and I wish I had that. Oh my god, I wish I had that,” Compher said.

Nutzman believes that anyone has the potential to reach their dreams if they apply themselves.

“Chase your dreams and reach out of your comfort zone,” Nutzman said. “It’s never too early to aspire to do big things-I never thought I’d be working at Capital Arena, in high school as a junior, but if you really apply yourself and really put in effort then go for it.”

 Up to this point, balancing school and work has been difficult for Nutzman, but he has no regrets.

“I can say from this experience so far, it is challenging, but so much fun.”