LV Life Editor
Hidden talents are always fun to figure out, especially when it results in tasty treats from the most unexpected people.
A.J. Licon, a junior movement and sports science major, has been hiding his gift for baking pretty well.
Licon is better known as a cross-country runner who went to Indiana in November to compete in the NCAA nationals with the men’s cross-country team.
“I guess the only people who really know are my family and my closest friends,” Licon said.
“It was a surprise when I found out because I had known him for a year already and not a lot of guys know how to cook,” Kendall Kraiss, La Verne alumna, said.
Licon started baking when he was 6 years old and grew up watching his mother cook.
“My mom saw me watching her cook in the kitchen and said that if I was going to be there then I better get to work,” Licon said.
“I definitely learned everything from my mom, when she gets into something she really gets into it.”
“Not enough mothers teach their sons to cook because they don’t see it as an important skill for them to learn,” Frances Davenport, Licon’s mother, said.
“I think that marriages work on a partnership now so it is important for young men to learn to cook for their family,” Davenport said.
“She usually asks me to help her when she is baking a cake for someone and needs help making the frosting, but I am always happy to help,” Licon said.
“People usually ask me to bake cookies for them but I don’t really mind because it doesn’t take up that much time,” Licon said.
“The most I have ever done is baking 80 to 100 cookies for a Super Bowl party along with a bowl of dip but that was gone pretty fast.”
With a talent this strong, naturally La Verne was not always Licon’s destination.
“I almost went to culinary school in Colorado but decided to go for a better career and La Verne offered me more financial aid.”
In the circle of people who know about Licon’s hidden talent, his most well known treats are his peanut butter cookies.
“People always get excited when they see I brought those cookies,” Licon said.
Aside from putting too much salt in a dish and a failed banana soufflé when he was younger, Licon has had pure success in the kitchen.
“There are a lot of ups and downs in the kitchen but I just learn from my mistakes,” Licon said.
Licon says he can cook as well but baking is his favorite thing, he likes the more cut and dry aspect of it.
“I try and keep it simple; it usually tastes better,” Licon said.
“Presentation-wise, the more difficult things look nicer but I still like to go with what I know.”
“I know most of my recipes by heart but I like to get creative to make them my own.”
“His peanut butter cookies are pretty much the best thing in the world,” Kraiss said.
After Licon’s teaching career ends he hopes to continue baking and make it more known.
“When I retire I really want to try and open up a bakery with a friend,” Licon said.
Like most artists, Licon does not indulge himself in his craft; he bakes for everyone excluding himself and just enjoys the process.
“People all have food in common and I like to reach them that way.”
Veronica Orozco can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.