Monisha Clifton

A Dallas native turns a love of baking pies for her community during the pandemic into a culinary career with the help of Dallas College culinary arts program.

1. Tell us about yourself: when did you graduate? What did you study? I haven’t graduated yet, I plan to complete the AAS Culinary Arts program this summer (2023). 

I am a Dallas native. I attended Lincoln High School many moons ago. At the time the pandemic occurred I was a high school teacher at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy. I baked pies to connect with my new neighbors having just purchased a home in South Dallas. The pandemic lasted longer than expected and I kept on baking. By Thanksgiving 2020 I had a small pie business. I left the classroom during the pandemic and since then have been fully immersed in baking and raising my son.  

2. What was your experience at Dallas College like?

The experience has been like no other. I enrolled into classes during the pandemic. From the moment I enrolled I have felt supported by faculty, administrators, and staff. Attending culinary school at El Centro has helped me grow as an entrepreneur and a person. 

3. What lessons did you learn during your tenure at Dallas College? Do you feel like they prepared you for life afterwards?

Every class that I’ve taken has afforded me the opportunity to cross paths and work with people I would have never had the chance to collaborate with in my former careers. From learning cooking tips from  18 year olds, to working alongside military veterans, and encouraging entrepreneurs like myself to follow their dreams. It’s been amazing! The two main lessons I’ve learned is to 1) never stop learning and 2) it’s never too late to learn something new. 

4. When you reflect on your time at Dallas College, who is one person that really made an impact on your life?

Well, I’d have to go with the person who introduced me to the Dallas College Culinary, Pastry, Hospitality program; Mr. Steve DeShazo. I had a booth at my church’s community event selling pies. Mr. DeShazo was one of the attendees. He approached my booth, asked a few questions, and told me I should check out the pastry certificate program. Two weeks later I was sitting in Basic Food Prep, decked out in chef clothes, toting a knife kit , and text book thanks to the PepsiCo Uplift Grant. Had he not been out and about in the community I wouldn’t be at El Centro.

6. Since you left the Dallas College network, you have had a bevy of professional work experiences filled with many personal and professional accolades. Which ones are you most proud of?

N/A. I’m still enrolled. 

7. This month is Black History Month, can you speak about some of the notable figures in the Black community that have inspired you and why?

There are extremely too many notable African Americans in my community to count. I was born and raised in Sunny South Dallas and have been around Black Excellence all of my life. I was blessed to have Black teachers every year throughout grade school. Here are some but not all of the teachers that encouraged me and empowered me. 

Colonial Elementary Learning Center

  • Mr. Lawrence
  • Mrs. Kennedy
  • Mrs. Webster
  • Ms. Buckner 

Pearl C. Anderson Middle School

  • Principal Williams
  • Coach Lindsey
  • Mr. Daniels
  • Ms. Whittaker
  • Ms. Timmons
  • Ms. Anderson
  • Mr. Creasy

Lincoln High School

  • Ms. Beverly Talton
  • Ms. Tasha K. Roberts
  • Dean Simmons
  • Dr. Louie White
  • Ms. Iris Wesley
  • Mr. Gregory Primus

8. In your opinion, why is cultural diversity important in your field?

Cultural diversity is very important and necessary in the food industry. Although culinary school is built and based on French cuisine, it’s when we experience the flavors, cooking methods, and the culture of others that we begin to see how food draws us together as a people. We have so much to learn from each other and I’ve experienced on many occasions food be the gateway of discovery and connection. 

9. What advice would you give current Dallas College students, specifically students of color?

There is strength in wise counsel, especially when you are entering a territory of life that no one around you has experienced before. It’s okay to not know how to do something. But on the same note, it’s not cute to not know and not seek out the knowledge or wisdom in order that you do know. Asking someone to explain something again or in a different way so that you understand is not as embarrassing as you think. You’d be amazed at how many people want you to succeed. So when you feel like no one is in your corner, reach out to student support services and I’m certain there is someone available to walk alongside you in the tough times. 

10. Where do you see yourself in the next 5-10 years?

In 5-10 years my son will be an adolescent. I see myself as a fully engaged mom; supporting him in whatever activities he takes interest in. As far as my career, I plan for my business, Moe’s Delights to be a household name, self sustainable, providing quality jobs, having adopted a large number of food sustainability best practices. I also see myself as an advocate for economic development collaborating with other organizations in my community and within my church.