2012 Scholarship Recipients

The 2012 Les Dames d’Escoffier Scholarship applicants all hold the promise of leading Chicago’s culinary scene sometime in the future. Seven highly motivated, passionate culinary students stood out from the rest to earn this year’s Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago Scholarships.

Applications were received from students at College of DuPage, DePaul University, Elgin Community College, The French Pastry School, Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Chicago, Kendall College, Lexington College, Robert Morris University–Institute of Culinary Arts, Triton College, Washburne Culinary Institute – and $30,000 worth of scholarships were awarded.

Please meet the 2012 Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago scholarship winners:

Raynise Arrington, a student at Washburne Culinary Center, was awarded a $5,000 scholarship. She described culinary as “creating art that is edible,” that “brings joy to everyone.” The different foods are “like a big box of crayons.” Her earliest memory in the kitchen was baking cakes with her grandmother, where her job was to “sift the flour into a big mountain on the table.” Raynise’s unbridled passion was contagious as she described networking with culinary professionals at school and in the community, as well as when she explained a non-profit program she and friends from cosmetology school are planning where she will teach young girls healthy eating so that they can take care of themselves “on the inside as well as the outside.” After graduation she would like to do catering to provide affordable healthy eating for families.

$5,000 Scholarship winner Tyler Burns is studying Culinary Arts with a Nutritional Concentration at Kendall College. In addition to being a full-time student, Tyler works at a local restaurant and writes a healthy eating blog. A member of the Chicago Green City Farmer’s Market, she features ingredients from the market in the recipes on her blog, which are then linked back to the individual purveyors’ websites. After Kendall, Tyler plans to become a registered dietitian, then find ways to teach others about healthy cooking and eating.

Robert Morris University student Lindsay Hamilton is the recipient of a $5,000 scholarship. Lindsay started her culinary studies with the goal to learn to cook better then work the back of the house somewhere. After earning her Associates Degree, this single mom began working as a restaurant manager at Robert Morris’ Eyrie restaurant, where she discovered the front of house and her enthusiasm is catching. As one of her letter of recommendations states, “Lindsey has very high standards … her innate ability to get all that she can get from her students [who work at the restaurant] in a calm and non-threatening style makes Lindsey a woman with great leadership potential.” She is an active member of her school’s Culinary Society and volunteers at her church’s monthly Sunday Night Suppers. She has worked in a country club kitchen, been a server at a local café, and interned with a catering company, experiences which she feels will serve her well when she lands her first restaurant or hotel manager position.

Kristen Rozek, a $5,000 scholarship winner, is a student at Le Cordon Bleu – Chicago. This single mom of three wanted a more challenging career (she had been a CNA at a nursing home) when she obtained a cookbook at a cooking demonstration by Chef Ed Leonard at Volare Ristorante and started cooking the recipes with her daughters. While she had “always cooked,” she knew she now wanted to return to school to become “Chicago’s Next Great Chef.” Kristen is a humble young woman who understands the hard work and long hours involved in reaching this dream. Despite family responsibilities and commuting from the suburbs, she volunteers as a fundraiser for the Westmont Community Park District and volunteers at March of Dimes fundraising events. She also enjoys doing cooking demos in her community.

Our fifth $5,000 scholarship awardee is Triton College baking and pastry student Cynthia Vann. Cynthia was a biology major at UIC and working as a technician at a nearby hospital when she began volunteering at the LaSalle Senior Center. There, she was assigned to assist the chef and other volunteers preparing, cooking and serving meals to low income seniors. “It was the most comfortable I felt in years.” After researching different culinary programs, she landed at Triton where, “I was able to discover my passion, the person I am and the person I want to be.” At Triton, she also works as a mentor 20 hours a week in the “TRIO” program that supports low income, 1st generation students and students with disabilities. She also volunteers with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and Alexian Brothers Bonaventure House.

Ashley Tezeno, a Washburne Culinary Center student, is a $2,500 scholarship recipient. Ashley has overcome personal physical disabilities to become an enthusiastic cheerleader for healthy lifestyles. She wants to inspire young children to adopt healthful eating habits by teaching in the Chicago Public School system and creating community gardens in their schoolyards. After graduation from Washburne, this outgoing people person plans to continue her education to become a Registered Dietician. She’d also like to create a line of “gourmet condiments” and sell them at local farmer’s markets.

Christina Zelaya was awarded a $2,500 scholarship towards her studies at Kendall College. Before culinary school, Christina was a member of the U. S. Military, serving 2 deployments in Iraq. She “grew up” in a restaurant – her mother managed a restaurant in San Francisco early in Christina’s life. After leaving the Army, Christina focused on a new goal, earning a degree in hospitality management to better equip her to “host charity events that promote awareness and raise money for different illnesses and causes.” Her search for “the perfect fit” in a school led her to Chicago and Kendall. She also would like to open a breakfast deli restaurant.

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