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Growing up, Jordan Acosta aspired to be a teacher, a pediatrician or a chef. During his undergraduate education at FIU, he experimented with all three disciplines while running a home business, Cakes by J. One thing’s certain – his passion was always children and culinary arts.

How he ended up graduating from the School of Education and Human Development?

“I realized that becoming a teacher would be the most fulfilling and meaningful career for me, Acosta said. “I was very fortunate to have so many positive role models throughout my primary and secondary education, and it is those previous teachers who motivate me to be the best positive influence I can be for my own students.”

Today, he teaches at Calusa Elementary School. On December 7, he’s taking his cooking talents to Taste of FIU for the second straight year.

“My goal for the competition last year was to not be the first contestant eliminated,” he said.

Entering its fourth season, Taste of FIU is a cooking competition that brings together alumni faculty/staff and students. One will walk away named FIU’s best Chef, but not before getting through three rounds of mystery ingredients judged by professional chefs.

Not only did Acosta make it past the first round where he delivered a vegan dish, he went all the way to the dessert round before tying for second place out of 12 contestants.

Acosta considers himself to have a creative thought process. However, painting and drawing weren’t his forte. From helping his mom in the kitchen to watching cake competitions on the Food Network – he soon realized food was an art. This inspired him to start Cakes by J and through high school and college he designed custom cakes for a variety of customers, including a cake for the grand opening of Barnes & Noble at FIU.

Proceeds from the event benefit the United Way of Miami-Dade, a nonprofit that works to improve education, financial stability and health in the community. Last year alone, the event raised $17,532.

In order to participate, contestants must raise $400 by December 3. For every dollar United Way receives, they are able to convert it into $2.70 via matching funds, grants and in-kind donations.

Help Jordan and the team cook for a cause by making a donation.

Watch the show-down live on December 7 at 3 pm in the Graham Center Ballrooms at the Modesto Maidique campus. Tickets are $10 online and $15 at the door. A wine bar and bites are included with the price of admission.