Pomp and Circumstance

It’s taken me almost three years, but I finally did it. This week I graduate from culinary school with high honors.

One of the biggest challenges I faced was going back to school after 20+ years with kids half my age. Sometimes we didn’t quite share the same work-your-butt-off ethics in the kitchen (but then again, neither did I when I was 18 earning my bachelor’s degree in art), which provided a fair share of frustration. Working several part time jobs to keep my schedule flexible while going to school part time, while being mom and wife, was the other challenge I faced daily. At times, I thought I was going to literally lose my mind trying to juggle everything. But keeping the big picture in clear focus helped me get through it all.

When I first began school, I wasn’t sure what to expect or where I was going to take this experience. The only thing I was sure of was that I had food allergies and needed to learn as much about food as possible. Along the way, I realized I loved teaching people what I was learning, loved food writing, and loved developing and testing recipes. Once I determined a career path for myself, the rest just seemed to fall into place.

While in school, I began teaching local cooking classes, winning cooking competitions, appearing on national and local radio and television programs doing cooking demos, and writing for local publications such as The Orlando Sentinel and Edible Orlando Magazine, as well as national companies like Food Network and Martha Stewart. And thanks to my supportive family, I was able to spend last summer in Boston for a culinary externship at America’s Test Kitchen.

I’m currently working as corporate chef in charge of recipe testing and menu development for Wholesome Tummies, an Orlando-based company providing healthy lunch programs for public and private schools across the country. In addition, my blog is now one of the top food blogs in the country, I’ve secured several freelance food writing assignments, I’m traveling the food blog circuit as a mentor and speaker, and teaching cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma and Whole Foods. I’m also working with a local production company on several food documentaries and a web-based cooking show that we’ll be pitching to networks. I’m slowly cranking out a cookbook and I’m also serving on the board of directors for our local Slow Food chapter.

Despite all that I’ve accomplished, this morning I experienced my proudest moment. Someone walked by and said, “Good morning, Chef. How are you today?” It wasn’t the first time someone has called me chef. But it was the first time I felt like I truly earned it.

Thank you to everyone that has stopped by Chef2Chef to read about my school experience and career development over the years. I hope the entries have provided insight and inspiration.

Part of the creed we agree to when graduating from culinary school is to pass on what you have learned; I strongly believe in that. Please feel free to contact me any time at Wicked Good Dinner with school, career or cooking questions — I’m always happy to help.

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            5 Program(s) Found
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            1 Program(s) Found
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in 2015 by U.S. News and World Report.
            • Lets undergrad students try classes before paying any tuition.
            • Has an average class sizes of 18 for undergraduate and 13 for graduate-level courses.
            • Offers numerous scholarship opportunities that can help students save up to $750 per term on their tuition.
            • Tends to educate degree-seeking online and campus-based students who are adult learners with families and students who work while pursuing higher education.
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            • Received the 2013 “Cooking School of the Year” Award of Excellence from the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP).
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • Externship opportunities are available at numerous famous New York City restaurants.
            • Campus is located near downtown Manhattan, within walking distance of many popular attractions such as the Radio City Music Hall.
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            Good for Working Adults
            • Flexible Scheduling
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            3 Program(s) Found
            • Culinary Arts program includes the 3-week Farm To Table® Experience, where students gain a direct, in-depth look at where food comes from.
            • Numerous scholarship opportunities and financial aid are available to students who qualify.
            • Accreditation from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), and the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 2 campuses located in Boulder, Colorado and Austin, Texas.
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            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
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            • Accredited
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            Virginia College , Fort Pierce
            • Instructors are typically real-world professionals with many years of experience in their career fields.
            • Ranked #3 in Best for Vets: Career & Technical Colleges 2014 by Military Times.
            • Presents the full tuition cost up front. In most cases, even textbooks are included in the total price.
            • Provides career services associates to help students review their resume, provide career counseling, help with job searches, and more.
            • Has 27 campus locations across the southern United States, plus offers online degree programs.
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            2 Program(s) Found
            • Each campus features a public restaurant where culinary students work under the direction of professional chefs for real-world experience.
            • Hosts Platt College’s Food Fight, a friendly dessert competition for students held once a month.
            • Offers programs in culinary arts, nursing, and healthcare.
            • Accredited by the American Culinary Federation (AFC) and Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
            • 5 campuses in Lawton, North and Central Oklahoma City, Moore, and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
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