If you ask any OLu student about their high school experience, I am almost positive that the cafe would be mentioned at least once. The cafe has set Orange Lutheran apart from other high schools and Chef Anthony Chumpitaz should receive all the credit
Chef Anthony started cooking at the age of 12 as his mom tried to kick him out of the kitchen but his love for food got the better of him. His curiosity led him to learn little things here and there and, eventually, the future Chef Anthony was cooking for his family as their parents worked late nights.
He didn’t know until later in his life how those early kitchen memories would impact his entire life. He was focused on becoming a professional soccer player as he played in high school and later in college but was forced to quit because of an injury. His girlfriend at the time, who also was his future wife, found a culinary school for him. Chef Anthony transferred to the Art Institute of Los Angeles after two years of college. As soon as he started culinary school he knew that cooking was “what [he was] gonna do.” And since that day, he has heavily immersed himself in the world of food and cooking.
Since graduating from culinary school, Chef Anthony has worked in kitchens all over the world. He moved up the kitchen ranks fast, showed up early, and quickly became a chef. There were days that Chef Anthony would be in the kitchen before the sun rose and not leave until sunset. His work ethic paid off well as he became the garde manger at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey. He worked for the Ritz for 10 years at their Puerto Rico and Las Vegas restaurants. He was even in charge of opening the Terranea resort restaurant in Palos Verdes and worked there for three years. His restaurant experience is topped off with seven years at the prestigious Beverly Hills hotel.
During covid, Chef Anthony toured Orange Lutheran and sent in his resume hopeful for any cafe job openings. He was surprised to get a call saying he had gotten the job. Chef Anthony wanted a better quality of life for his family, to attend their competitive sports games, and watch his sons grow up. Orange Lutheran would provide a “better quality of life for [his] family.” Chef Anthony is extremely thankful for the years in the restaurant industry but needed a change.
With his extensive experience and over qualifications, he has completely transformed the OLu cafe for the better. Students walk into the cafe and could be met with beef flautas, a variety of pasta, and fresh salads to name a few of the things that chef Anthony has added to the menu. He pays tribute to OLu’s diversity as he creates dishes like a Chinese chicken salad to celebrate the Lunar New Year or wet burritos and jamaica hibiscus tea to honor Hispanic heritage month. Students with dietary restrictions can also enjoy amazing meals as the cafe staff makes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options to meet every need.
Even though luxurious ingredients are less frequent in the Orange Lutheran kitchen, Chef Anthony gets to showcase his culinary abilities at events like Taste of OLu, the Lady Lancers brunch, and the annual gala. He ties into his roots to make incredible Latin-infused dishes that Orange Lutheran students and parents rave about.
As an OLu Cafe regular, I am so grateful for Chef Anthony and the amazing meals he provides for the students. He brings people together as seniors get the first choice of their food or as prospective students dream of using their money on a homemade lunch. Whether it’s the to-die-for churros, fresh smoothies, or even chili on a cold day, Chef Anthony makes every OLu student happy with his delicious food.
Photo Credit: Avery Krusiewicz