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!