2013 Scholarship Recipients

After a long intensive process of reading, rating applications, and interviewing semifinalists, the 2013 Les Dames d’Escoffier Scholarship Committee narrowed the field to seven. Based on need, merit and potential, these highly motivated, passionate culinary students stood out from the rest to earn this year’s Les Dames d’Escoffier Chicago Scholarships.

Recipients are students at College of DuPage, Kendall College, The French Pastry School, Triton College, Washburne Culinary Institute. $22,500 in scholarships were awarded.

Rachel Dau is a baking and pastry student at College of DuPage and intends to continue school toward her Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism and Hospitality management.

Her enthusiasm, passion and commitment caught the eye of her instructors, including former Dame Nancy Carey, who asked her to become a teaching and research assistant. Her fellow students elected her to the COD Hospitality Club and an entire page in her application indicates how she participates in a wide array of community and college activities. In fact, she immediately caught the attention of the Scholarship Committee on our visit to the college when she enthusiastically conducted a tour of the campus for us.

From her application, I paraphrase these words: It makes such a difference when I cook and make those who will be eating the food happy. You can taste the difference. Food makes people happy. When this is the case, work and school do not feel like a chore but a never ending adventure.

She dreams of becoming a teacher and hopes a mentor will give her multiple influences in the industry and guide her in balancing this career with family life.

She has been awarded a scholarship in the amount of $5000 toward her dream.

Chantiyanna Thigpen is a beginning baking and pastry student at Washburne Culinary Institute whose plan is to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality.

Her sparkling personality and ability to work with people came through to us in her application and her interview. Her instructor stresses her dedication, drive, passion, consistency, professional behavior and also her willingness to volunteer for every event that comes along.

Chantiyanna has been a customer service agent for several years and is currently a math tutor which she says provided skills she is transitioning into the skills that will help her to become successful in the culinary field.

In her essay she told us that “..every day, when I wake up, I am mis en placing for my life”

Her hope is to find a mentor who will fairly critique her so she can learn more, and introduce her to the culinary field beyond her own community. She is looking for a connection in any field who will recognize who she is and help her continually improve by sharing with her what they have learned.

We are pleased to announce that Chantiyanna has been awarded a $5000 scholarship.

Danielle Welch is in her internship phase at Kendall College and will graduate in December 2013, adding this AAS degree to her business degree from Boston College. Both that business background and her experience as leader in her sports activities helped develop her competitive drive and her ability to be a leader as well as a team player. She says “Direct cooperative involvement with others is something that I value in the workspace. I enjoy work that results in tangible benefits to others”.

One of her instructors says “Danielle is among the top five students I have taught” which is high praise indeed when you realize the instructor is Chef Pierre Pollin.

Danielle grew up in the family business, often helping her mother run a restaurant in Wisconsin, pitching in and learning about every aspect, including keeping the books doing payroll and ordering for her mother. We believe those experiences will serve her well as she dreams of returning to that restaurant and expanding it with updated ideas and skills while keeping the “family” feature that makes it a favorite dining place for “regular people”.

She is hoping to find a mentor who will be a guide “beyond cooking” – learning more about public relations, and other business aspects of running her own restaurant.

Les Dames Chicago has awarded Danielle a $5000 scholarship to support her goals.

Stephanie Kochanczyk is pursuing a baking and pastry degree at Triton College, where she hopes to graduate in May, then continue her education and receive certification in order to teach at the middle school or high school level, and to own a bakery café.

Stephanie and her husband have gone through some rough financial times, and a trying internship where she was the only woman in a fast-paced kitchen, but she held on strong to the dream of continuing her education. She says she is proud ” …knowing that I kept attending classes and accomplished that with the help of my amazing teachers, (that) is a beautiful reminder that determination is the key to success”.

She hopes to inspire someone else’s life with her story of determination and she will benefit, we believe, from a strong caring Les Dames mentor to encourage and help her accomplish her goals.

Stephanie will receive a scholarship in the amount of $2500 toward those goals and our hope is that her story will help by inspiring other students facing set-backs and roadblocks on their way to success.

Myra Viviana Proano is a career changer who will complete her Associates degree at Kendall in Culinary Arts. Her 10-year background in the health care industry includes being a lab clinician and nurses assistant, but, she says “ my most meaningful achievement has been my success as a culinary student” where she has frequently appeared on the Dean’s List. She says that she has “fallen in love with the gritty truth about Culinary”.

Her plan for the future is to be an “ambassador of food to my local community, bringing fresh local seasonal food to lower income families” and she loves the challenge of trying to take in new things while “toeing the line” under demanding chefs. She has participated in a wide range of culinary volunteer opportunities and one of her instructors lauded her as an honest, forthright hard worker which will enable her to be “a fine culinarian and credit to the industry”.

Her dream mentor would own her own business and be able to help steer Vivian in the area of corporate possibilities while incorporating community service into the mix.

The committee was impressed with her ability to explain her goals and felt strongly that her attention to detail and clinical and corporate experiences would apply well to the business side of our industry and be an asset to her future and to the industry as well.

Toward that end, Myra Viviano has been granted a $2500 scholarship.

Crystal Chiu submitted what was arguably the most intriguing application of any we received.

Before arriving at the French Pastry School for the current session, Crystal had a career in politics in Washington D.C.: working in the offices of Vice President and Dr. Biden and Speaker Nancy Polosi, spending time in Congress, and being able to witness the Obama inauguration and swearing in ceremony from just off the stage.

She believes her previous political career gives her a unique position to understand how the legislative process works and hopes to use that background to support the culinary industry by dedicating her insight into food businesses to lobby Congress in support of purveyors, food workers and small businesses.

While at FPS she has had a wide range of experiences, including stages at Per Se and Boka, many volunteer opportunities, and a recommendation from Jacqui Pfeiffer lauded her commitment, initiative, motivation, discipline, flexibility, team attitude and professionalism.

We look forward to witnessing Crystal’s success in the pastry kitchen, but also in grafting her two career paths into one future which will be meaningful for her and for others. Her scholarship is in the amount of $1250.

Anshaunti Hillery is studying Baking and Pastry at Washburne Culinary Institute and plans to obtain a Bachelors’ Degree in Business Management to permit her to own a successful bakery in the future.

The creative artistry of pastry-making appeals to Anshaunti who has been a graphic designer for the past five years and a teacher of graphic design in the After School Matters program. She believes that her background will be her “secret weapon in making an impression on the world of culinary arts “ and that a Les Dames Scholarship “will bring (her) one step closer to (her) most sought after dream”.

Letters of recommendation from employers and instructors point out qualities such as: “Attention to detail and excellence which are traits that are seldom seen in many of her peers”. She has been elected to the Student Advisory Council and recommended by several teachers because of her leadership qualities, ability to make hard decisions and an impeccable work ethic. And a past employer and mentor says “I have worked with close to 1000 teens and she is by far the student that stands out to me as a student and as an inspiration”.

She hopes to be matched with a mentor who will help to get her exposure to businesses and experiences outside her community, and especially exposure to culinary entrepreneurs.

Anshaunti has been chosen to receive a $1250 Les Dames scholarship.

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