Redgie Tadena: Introduction
Redgie Tadena was only eleven when his family moved from the Philippines to the United States. He grew up in the South Bay, an area just south of Los Angeles working at his family’s restaurant every weekend while going to school.
Redgie had a dream of someday attending UCLA and becoming a meteorologist. However, he is one of the many examples of someone who overcame tons of obstacles, and realized that sometimes you have to give up one dream to realize your passion is right in front of you.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to become a weather man. Ever since my family moved to the US, I knew I wanted to go to UCLA and major in Atmospheric Science. It was something I was determined to do.” he said. “The weather phenomena’s in my country like typhoons fascinated me and that’s where my interest started.”
Following Your Dreams
With the food atmosphere encompassing his life 24/7, Redgie grew to be a great cook. Whenever he had time out of his busy schedule, he took the time to bake birthday cakes, crazy cupcakes and delicious dishes for his friends and family. He always liked experimenting and making desserts for friends to try, but only looked at it as a hobby. Ever since he was a kid, he had his heart set on a different career.
When Redgie started high school, the idea of attending college neared and he realized the necessary steps he’d have to take. He was involved in numerous clubs, including the Advanced Studies Academy, Student Council, The Trailblazer and Academic Decathlon. Although being heavily involved, Redgie only maintained an average GPA, but did take on leadership positions within organizations to balance everything out.
When it came time to apply for colleges, Redgie knew where his heart was set on. His close friends had their hearts set on universities like Berkeley, UCLA, Stanford and UCSC. They all sent in their applications and waited.
“I recorded the exact moment when we clicked the submit button. It was a crazy time for us all. Our entire futures had depended on what we put on that application.” Tadena said.
Coping with Rejection
As acceptance and rejection letters came pouring in, Tadena felt happy for his friends who got into their schools of their dreams. Redgie, on the other hand, had to face what many high school students fear most, rejection from not just one, but multiple schools. Including UCLA.
“It was a heartbreaking experience,” he said. “High school students who got rejected from their dream school would know how it felt. I just knew I wouldn’t give up. At least not now.”
Redgie knew he wasn’t going to let this stop him from continuing to pursue his dreams, so enrolled into a local community college and planned to transfer to UCLA after satisfying pre-requisite courses.
While attending El Camino College, Redgie continued to work at his family’s restaurant and support his close friends and family in whatever endeavors they chose to pursue. He was always up for a trip to visit someone at their dorm for their birthday, cake in hand. People started to see he had a true gift.
“My friends recommended that I possibly start studying cooking. I thought it was a crazy idea since my family owns a restaurant and I’m constantly surrounded by all of it. I couldn’t imagine myself studying it.” he said.
Dreaming with A Broken Heart
However, as the years at El Camino College went by, his dream of becoming a meteorologist didn’t look too promising. He wasn’t performing well in science classes, key courses needed to be able to transfer into his major. Tadena wasn’t happy and didn’t know if going to UCLA and majoring in Atmospheric science was what he wanted to do anymore.
“I felt like I’d wasted two years of my life at a school that made me miserable. I questioned whether my choices were smart. I wondered what I would do if this really didn’t work out. Was my dream really being disrupted by reality?” Tadena said.
As he talked to more and more friends about it, he came to a realization that every time he was stressed out, he would cook. Redgie spent a lot of his time in the kitchen and always got great compliments on his experiments.
“I have an album on my Facebook where I always liked to post cupcakes, cakes, or dinners I’ve prepared for my friends. I didn’t think they would get so popular and I didn’t realize how much I loved creating them.” Tadena said.
As he realized his dream as a child was coming to slow halt, he decided to go discontinue attending community college and apply to Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Los Angeles.
“I didn’t have much to lose. I tried my best to always stay positive and keep my head up high. With support from those all around me, I knew that this might be the right path for me. I applied, not knowing how much the next coming months would change my life forever.”
A Better Decision
Redgie got accepted and ended up moving to Los Angeles. He began his career studying culinary arts. After a few months, Tadena learned that he would be taking part in temporarily cooking for Wolfgang Puck, preparing food for the Grammys, and the Academy Awards!
“I honestly couldn’t be happier about the choice I made. I have friends who go to great schools and universities and I’m glad that it’s working out for them. I think the lesson I learned from this whole experience is that sometimes when things don’t go your way, it may just be part of a bigger solution.”
Photo credit: Redgie Tadena