Dedicated Chef Kevin reopens ­student-run Serendipity at MDHS

Dedicated Chef Kevin reopens ­student-run Serendipity at MDHS

Dedicated Chef Kevin reopens ­student-run Serendipity at MDHS
Jacab Abalos, left, Isaac Guadalupe and Matthew Reynoso join Chef Kevin Fuller in the Serendipity kitchen at Mt. Diablo High School in Concord.

Richard Eber, Taste and TellCONCORD, CA (Feb. 29, 2024) — Playing the part of Chef Kevin Fuller at Mt. Diablo High School is no easy task.

Each day, 150 students take classes in what was once the school’s International Hospitality and Tourism Academy.

Despite strong opposition from the community, the Mt. Diablo Unified School District disbanded that program last year because of budgetary considerations. The Construction (ACME), Medical (MTBA) and Digital Safari (DSA) programs met similar fates.

Undaunted by the loss of past funding levels, Chef Kevin has kept many parts of the culinary academy alive in the classroom and by reopening Serendipity Restaurant after a two-year COVID closure.

This student-operated entity provides a bridge between high school and post-graduation employment. Any tips servers receive are funneled into scholarships and services benefiting workers.

In the morning periods, Chef Kevin gives instruction that includes menu creation, food preparation, cooking and service to clients. Everything they prepare utilizes fresh ingredients, served at a reasonable price.

Satisfying meals

On my first visit, the special was a trio of carne asada, carnitas and shrimp tacos. They even make tortillas and salsa from scratch. One person at my table had an excellent Cajun pasta dish featuring a zesty cream sauce.

Although the service was a bit slow, the meals were satisfying – especially considering this was the first day of the new Serendipity.

A graduate of the California Culinary Academy and Sacramento State, Chef Kevin brings expertise that goes well beyond book learning. Over the years, he has been employed at such notable restaurants as Tourelle in Lafayette and the Velvet Turtle in Pleasant Hill. He also operated Kevin’s Catering for 17 years until 2010.

I brought along a group of friends on my return visit to Serendipity, creating an atmosphere like that of the popular PBS program “Check, Please!” Fortunately, none of my guests were disappointed.

Early in the morning, customers will find freshly made omelets with potatoes. They also offer a breakfast sandwich that’s far superior to an Egg McMuffin and oatmeal served with dried cherries and pecans. Serendipity’s bakery doesn’t miss a beat, providing warm muffins, scones and wheat bread each day.

At lunch, I tried a more than respectable club sandwich served with house-made potato chips. With a layer of avocado, three layers of chicken, freshly grilled bacon and cheese, it rivals what most country clubs offer.

Our table also sampled a tasty Dosa Indian crepe with a potato filling, finished with a green coconut sauce.

Following lunch, Chef Kevin came over to our table and thanked us for visiting. He promised to enlarge the menu to pre-COVID days, when Serendipity served poached salmon, duck brochette, beef stroganoff and other delicacies.

Teaching skills

Despite teaching positions being eliminated and funding cutbacks in his department, Chef Kevin says he doesn’t mind the 12-hour workdays needed to educate his eager to learn students.

“My big message this year is that we want them to acquire the skills to be Employee of the Month wherever they go,” he said. “I use the medium of food to teach much broader skills. Of course, students learn to cook and use restaurant industry equipment. They also acquire important traits of management, teamwork and thinking about others first.”

Chef Kevin takes pride in his efforts, noting: “This is a program that has reached out to kids who often don’t see a reason to be in school. Many alumni have succeeded and carried that success beyond graduation.”

Many students seek higher education in college and culinary school, with careers that include a senior inspector for Michelin Star, owning restaurants such as Papi Clary’s Kitchen in Concord and Biscuits and Pickles Catering in Oregon, Crown Plaza management, along with restaurant managers, executive chefs, sous chefs and bartenders.

“What do all of these students have in common? They take their hospitality with them,” Chef Kevin said. “I would love for the program to thrive and to regain its ability to have an even bigger impact again.”

Serendipity is at 2611 East St., Concord. It is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch 8:45 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday. For more information, call 925-798-0882.

Contact Richard Eber at

Rich Eber
Rich Eber

Rich Eber is a local journalist and long time resident of Concord.  His diverse topics covered go from politics to gourmet food.  He can be reached at