Samuel Ibarra


Store # 08460
Charlotte, North Carolina
Samuel Ibarra at a Starbucks store in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Food has been central to Samuel Ibarra’s life since he can remember. His mother, who grew up cooking for her siblings in El Salvador, made sure her son knew his way around the kitchen from a young age. His father, who runs a couple of Mexican restaurants, taught him about the business side. But it wasn’t until Samuel’s sophomore year in high school in nearby Raleigh that his heart was fully flambéd by the idea of a career in the culinary arts. A representative from Johnson & Wales University did a cooking demonstration in one of his classes and Samuel was hooked. “It was just like the professionalism and how he held himself up – it really got to me,” Samuel said. He’s now a culinary major at the college’s Charlotte, North Carolina, campus with dreams of feeding (and traveling) the world – and technically other worlds as well, as he joked about opening the first Mexican restaurant on the moon and speculated about the eventual need for a food truck rover on Mars. “Well, first, I want to help my dad, of course, creating menus and helping manage his business and then hopefully have my own business one day. I would really like to have my own food truck and just go around places feeding people,” he said. “Food is a pleasure. Food brings people together,” he said. “Food is almost like a universal language. It moves people. Everywhere you go, you can tell how that place is by the cuisine. Food, for me, essentially tells a story of culture.”

– Jennifer Warnick

“Food is almost like a universal language. It moves people. Everywhere you go, you can tell how that place is by the cuisine. Food, for me, essentially tells a story of culture.”

Starbucks store #08460 in Charlotte, North Carolina
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First-ever Starbucks North America Barista Championship is a celebration of our partners