The new girl

First post with The Dish. Hello out there! I'm Dawn from Orlando.

Eighteen-ish years after graduating from college with a degree in graphic design, I decided to go back to school for a second degree in culinary arts. I'm currently a marketing manager with Disney and attending culinary school part time at Valencia, just finishing up my first semester.

I sometimes feel a little er, um hesitant about telling fellow colleagues I'm attending a community college, as some might argue I could never receive the same knowledge and discipline that a culinary academy would provide. But I have to give Valencia props for their small but mighty program - it's been pretty amazing so far. I'm learning from some of the best chefs in the area, it’s extremely affordable, and the program fit my schedule.

So far, I've made it through the first semester with straight A's...or, at least I think so. Final exams are next week for prerequisites, and I finally start cooking during summer session in May, when I will become very intimate with chicken (or so I’ve been told).

In addition to work and school, I'm also a food writer and competitive cook.

If you'll be in the Orlando area on April 26th, come on out to the Crisco National Pie Championships in Celebration, FL – I'll be competing in the professional division for, gulp, $5,000. Normally, I would have entered in the amateur category, but because of culinary school, I had to enter in the professional category...and I'm by no means a professional at this point. Should be interesting...come out and watch the chaos!

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            Culinary Arts (AS)
            • Program areas include Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and more
            • Students are taught cooking styles from around the globe, including Classical European, Asian, and Latin cuisine
            • Curriculum designed to prepare students for a career as a chef, with course topics that include Culinary Techniques, Management by Menu, and Nutrition
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Intensive Sommelier Training
            • Hands-on culinary education with focused attention on each student
            • An ACCSC School of Excellence with multiple “Best Vocational Cooking School” awards*
            • 15,000 graduates, including celebrities like Bobby Flay, David Chang, and Christina Tosi*
            • Programs in Culinary Entrepreneurship, Professional Culinary Arts, Professional Pastry Arts, and much more
            • Campuses in New York and Silicon Valley with nearby housing available
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            Culinary Arts
            • Received the 2015 and 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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            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid