Casa M SpicesCasa M Spice Chef: Ilie Spilca

My name is Ilie Spilca I am a Romanian-born, America-loving, 41-year-old chef. I was born in Timisoara, Romania in 1978, and moved to the United States when I was 5 years old. My parents had always wanted to move to the United States to escape communism, so in 1982 they left their children behind and escaped to The United States with my uncles, aunts, and grandparents. My sister, cousins, and I were able to reunite with them a year and a half later.

I was raised in Belen, New Mexico, a small town 30 miles south of Albuquerque, NM. I attended a small Christian school until I went to the New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell, NM. I graduated from NMMI high school in 1996 and got a full scholarship to play tennis at NMMI Junior College. I graduated junior college in 1998 and subsequently received a full athletic scholarship to play tennis for the Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. I graduated from the Citadel with a Criminal Justice degree in 2001.

I moved back to Albuquerque where I eventually realized my real passion was cooking.  I sought out a culinary school and found Scottsdale Culinary Institute, yes I know, another Institute. I graduated from SCI in 2007 with a major in cuisine and minor in Front of the House. I worked for several restaurants in Scottsdale but ended up at Troon Country Club in Scottsdale where I worked for 7 years. In 2012 I moved back to Albuquerque and started my own cafe which I still own today.  I love cooking and that fact makes my job a passion rather than just work.