Interning with Texas Tasty

Lauren Castro

My love for food grew during one of the hardest times in my life.

When I started the position at Texas Tasty, we were in the beginnings of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was April and I was back home, figuring out where I stood at my childhood home as well as trying to act as if life was normal. Because the world actually didn’t stop turning even though it felt that way, I was still responsible for my future career and schooling– prompting the dreaded internship search.

I grew up in the kitchen. Whether it be my mother making Chicken Ala King or my grandma stirring a pan of Mexican rice, I was around an environment where love was expressed through food. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve only learned to appreciate the hard work a pumpkin cheesecake takes because of the joy it can bring to a cousin or distant relative you haven’t seen in years on Thanksgiving.

Texas Tasty was my shot in the dark. I loved to cook and bake but never thought I’d be able to make it a job, much less be good at it. I was met with open arms and encouraged to break out of my comfort zone.

From Instagram lives hosted by Florence Pugh or Molly Baz, I was immersed into the cooking world so quickly that I didn’t even realize. TikTok became a daily routine and I started to learn more about spices outside my go-to’s of garlic powder and salt. I became an expert at using odd platforms and objects around my house to prop my phone against to get the perfect shot. I started baking my own bread along with the rest of the internet.

I grew closer to my parents through our bond over food. On a normal day, it was common to hear something about MasterChef or my dad commenting on how he needs new knives to feel like a true cook. Sometimes we’d gather around the TV and watch Claire Saffitz, or “the cool grey streak lady,” make a delicious dessert. Oftentimes, I’d drive to Walmart that night to make it for us.

The most important thing I’ve experienced in this position is self-growth. I conquered many fears, believe it or not. One anxiety-inducing week led me to the screens of San Antonians where I cooked a burger during a news segment, while sharing information I tested days before to make sure it was perfect. I beat my fear of ordering food for myself and have started asking more questions about the food I order, much to a restaurant owner’s delight. Now, I get to take my friends along on restaurant reviews and share my ever growing knowledge of cutting techniques and play a fun game I like to call “let’s see if we can guess every ingredient in this dish.”

Throughout my time with Texas Tasty, I’ve been gifted with so many opportunities that I’ll never forget. I’ve met interesting restaurant owners and have seen the coolest outdoor patios in Austin as well as learned of the real importance of saving your pasta water for the final dish.

The internship gave me more than a job– it gave me purpose when I felt I had none.