US Foods Scholars program
We proudly support programs that help underserved youth reach their culinary dreams. That’s why, in August 2017, we launched our US Foods® Scholars program.
US Foods Scholars awards financial support and professional development opportunities to students who plan to pursue an education in the culinary arts and enter the restaurant industry. We work with our partners, the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) and the American Culinary Federation (ACF), to identify deserving students who have demonstrated outstanding potential and achievement in the culinary arts, and require additional resources to take the next step of their culinary journey. The program aims to inspire students to reach their full potential, and contribute a meaningful solution to the talent shortage facing the restaurant industry.
US Foods Scholars began in Chicago and Arizona, and now supports scholars in five additional markets—Atlanta, Austin, Denver, New York City and Raleigh.
Since 2017, we have welcomed 30 scholars to the program and will name additional scholars throughout 2020.
Fall 2019 US Foods Scholars
Christian is a first-year student at Austin Community College, where he is pursuing a degree in culinary arts and entrepreneurship.
He began cooking in 2012, and the kitchens and cafés in which he worked became a refuge from the financial, physical and mental struggles he was experiencing at the time. It wasn’t until 2015, when Christian moved to chef-run kitchens, that he discovered he was a skilled cook with a true passion for culinary arts. It was then he realized he’d found his career.
As a US Foods Scholar, Christian hopes to open a space of his own where he can promote local businesses and artists, using food and beverage as the main attraction.
Fun Facts About Christian
Favorite dish to prepare: “Fried chicken, specifically fried chicken sandwiches. They may be simple, but I never underestimate the power of simplicity. I also enjoy making ramen, mainly due to the complexity that can be put into it.”
The impact he wants to have on the food and restaurant industry: “For me, food is all about bringing people together to experience something, to mingle, converse and enjoy the company of others. As a chef, I would like to support green processes and sustainable food, as well as up-and-coming and established local artists. I envision using food and beverage as encouragement to appreciate life. I want to create a community hub of joy, acceptance and great food.”
Activities he enjoys in his spare time: “I sing constantly, play guitar and write music. I’m an avid music listener as well, with tastes across the board. I exercise as often as possible, and I eat to keep up with it. Reading is something I like to do as well – mostly historical fiction, self-help books and recipe books.”
Destiny is a first-year student at The Art Institute of Atlanta, where she is earning an associate degree in culinary arts. She has been cooking since 2013, when she joined the U.S. Army as a foodservice specialist. The feeling she gets when someone loves a dish she prepared is what drew her to pursue a culinary career. While the chaotic nature of the kitchen isn’t for everyone, Destiny enjoys it and thrives in that environment.
As a US Foods Scholar, she hopes to run her own successful business and teach others how to prepare meals for themselves.
Fun Facts About Destiny
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: “When I served in the military. Having never been on ‘meats’ before, my shift leader felt it was time to come off ‘starch and veggies’ and challenge myself. So, on that Soul Food Thursday, it was my duty to prepare the ribs. I was terrified and everyone knew it, but with the help and encouragement of my fellow battle buddies, I successfully made over 200 servings of delicious ribs. I needed that challenge, and I will forever be grateful for that push.”
The impact she wants to have on the food and restaurant industry: “I want to show people that when it comes to food, less can be more. You don’t need an expensive piece of fish for it to be delicious. I would love to have a giving business where I would offer more than just a cooking class, and instead, demonstrate and share minor tips that can make major differences in the kitchen.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It means that, although chances may appear slim, if you believe you are worthy of recognition and reward, you just might get it. This award is only the beginning, and I believe this open door can and will open many more.”
Frauntashia is a first-year student at the Art Institute of Atlanta, where she is pursuing an Associate Degree in baking and pastry. She was inspired to begin baking about five years ago, after watching baking and cake-decorating shows on television. She was fascinated by how the pastry artists created works of art out of the different cakes and baked goods.
It is now her goal to create cakes, breads and pastries from different parts of the world, while putting her own creative spin on the final dishes. Earning a US Foods Scholars scholarship helped her realize she had more potential than she thought, and she has gained more confidence in the kitchen.
Fun Facts About Frauntashia
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: “Last Christmas, my brother and I did all the holiday cooking. We made a Christmas feast for my family and even made dumplings from scratch.”
The impact she wants to have on the food and restaurant industry: “I want to make and share the delicious tastes of cakes, breads and pastries from other countries. I hope people from these countries will be reminded of their homelands when tasting what I’ve baked.”
Activities she enjoys in her spare time: “I enjoy exercising and learning about different types of ingredients. I am especially interested in learning which foods and ingredients can be substituted for others in a recipe.”
Grace is a first-year student at Austin Community College, where she is pursuing a degree in culinary and pastry arts. She grew up in a New Orleans restaurant, where she developed an appreciation for the employees who worked hard to create magical experiences for their guests. She began cooking in earnest more than five years ago, hosting dinner parties for her friends and always challenging herself to create better dishes for each event.
As a US Foods Scholar, she hopes to become an executive chef or a personal chef for celebrities. She’d love to open her own restaurant and showcase her roots and influences on the menu.
Fun Facts About Grace
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: “When I landed my first pop-up gig for a non-profit called Gardenio in Austin, Texas. It was for a small number of people, but I was cooking to raise money and awareness for a cause.”
The impact she wants to have on the food and restaurant industry: “I would love to give back to kids who have dreamt of having an impact on the culinary industry, just like I used to. My goal is to create affordable, after-school cooking classes for kids to help expand their endless possibilities.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: "It means being open and communicative with my professors to push myself to become a better student. It means having freedom to enjoy school without an economic burden so I can truly focus on my craft. As a US Foods Scholar, the door for opportunity is much larger and it also gives me the opportunity to connect with others in this profession.”
Raleigh, North Carolina
Hannah is a first-year student at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, where she is double-majoring in baking and pastry and culinary arts. She has spent most of her life in the kitchen, and started cooking at the age of three. She hasn’t stopped since.
As a US Foods Scholar, Hannah’s long-term dream is to open a gluten-free bakery and coffee shop. She has wheat and dairy allergies, so she wants to open a place that has a variety of delicious options for those who struggle to find treats like she does.
Fun Facts About Hannah
What inspired her to pursue culinary arts: “The earliest memory I have from my childhood was baking brownies in the kitchen with my mom. Ever since that moment, I knew that I wanted to be a chef. It was a dream that I never questioned or thought about twice. I just knew that it was what I wanted to do. My mom played a large role in where I am today. If she was not as intentional as she was about getting me in the kitchen, I probably would not have developed the dedication and love for cooking that I have today.”
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: “I have hundreds of memories that have taken place in the kitchen, but one of my absolute favorites was when a friend and I made cupcakes for a wedding. We were using the kitchen at her church to bake around 250 cupcakes. To our dismay, something had spilled in the oven, and when we turned them on the fire alarms were set off, resulting in the entire local fire department showing up. Despite our adventures, the cupcakes turned out incredibly, and the wedding was a success.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It is such an incredible honor. I had no idea that following a passion of mine could lead me where it has. This is such an astounding opportunity that can open so many doors. I am extremely thankful to be named one of the US Foods Scholars. This extraordinary opportunity will allow me to continue pursing degrees in both culinary and baking, and pastry arts.”
Jessica, who goes by Jessie, is a first-year student at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, where she is studying baking and pastry arts, as well as hospitality and food service management. Her love of culinary arts started at a young age, as she spent much of her childhood in the kitchen cooking with her family. She has been cooking in school and in restaurants for more than four years, and three years ago, started attending school to pursue a career in the culinary arts.
As a US Foods scholar, Jessie hopes to begin her career working for a well-known cake artist or baker and learn how to perfect her craft before one day opening a bakery of her own.
Fun Facts About Jessie
The impact she wants to have on the food and restaurant industry: “I would like to use my skills and knowledge to help fight hunger and provide support to families in need of food.”
Activities she enjoys in her spare time: “One of my favorite activities is cake decorating. It’s a way for me to de-stress and it serves as an outlet for my feelings. Decorating cakes helps me take everything that’s wrong in my life and throw it right out the window.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Being a US Foods Scholar means so much to me. US Foods is a very well-known company in the food industry, and to be able to continue my education with their support means the world.”
Raleigh, North Carolina
Karla is a first-year student at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, where she is majoring in culinary arts. Her desire to pursue a career in the culinary arts started during high school, when she took several food classes that piqued her interests. This newfound passion eventually led her to join her school’s culinary team.
As a US Foods Scholar, once she graduates with her culinary degree, Karla would like to start working in a professional kitchen and travel the world to learn about different cultures and food customs.
Fun Facts About Karla
The impact she wants to have on the food and restaurant industry: “I would like to empower women in the kitchen. Many females are not taken seriously in this field, and I want to change that. I want to let women know that they have what it takes to succeed in this male-dominated profession.”
Favorite dish to prepare: “I enjoy making tacos because they’re very simple, and you can use your own creativity and transform the dish into a memorable experience. They are also very tasty!”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It means new opportunities for me to explore the culinary world, to meet new people and have fun!”
Nicolas is a first-year student enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, where he is studying culinary arts, foodservice and food and beverage management. He has been cooking since he was 12 years old, which is when he realized his passion for making other people happy through the creation of great-tasting cuisine.
As a US Foods Scholar, he has the long-term goal of owning and operating his own restaurant, with a menu that reflects his love of food and the feeling of community it creates.
Fun Facts About Nicolas
What inspired him to pursue culinary arts: “I was part of an International Baccalaureate program in middle school, and one of our projects required us to research a topic in depth. I chose culinary arts, specifically Italian cuisine. I loved watching the meals come together from the raw ingredients and then getting to serve them to all my peers and their parents. I have always loved cooking for others and seeing the joy on their faces when they experience eating amazing food.”
Favorite dish to prepare: “I love cooking Bolognese, as it was the first dish I learned to cook for my project in sixth grade.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Representing the best that the culinary arts world has to offer. It means always putting your full effort into what you love and sharing your passion with others.”
2019 US Foods Summer Scholars
Alana is a first-year student at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Colorado. She is pursuing an Associate Degree in culinary arts.
Cooking has been a part of Alana’s life since she was two years old. Some of her earliest memories were of being in the kitchen with her grandmother and helping her cook her famous rolls. Alana’s mother is a professional chef and is her inspiration for going into the industry.
As a US Foods® Scholar, Alana hopes to take what she learns and apply it to becoming a culinary arts therapist. She believes in the power of the culinary arts, and wants to help people who have suffered various traumas heal through culinary processes.
Fun Facts about Alana
Favorite dish: "My favorite dish to prepare is homemade ramen noodles. It may seem trivial, but in the Maricopa High School culinary program, we specialized in cuisines from around the world."
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: "It means that I will be able to help industrialize and further the evolution of the culinary industry. Not everyone ends up in the kitchen. Some people end up in the front of the house, while others take care of deliveries. It just means to me that this great gift that we all possess can create something extraordinary for those around us and those who we serve."
Daylynn is a first-year student at Robert Morris University Illinois in Chicago, Illinois, where she is studying culinary arts and hospitality management.
Her love for cooking started at a young age, and cooking with her family is something she considers to be very special. She has been cooking with her grandmother for her entire life, and the first meal she prepared was fried chicken.
As a US Foods® Scholar, Daylynn hopes to take what she learns and become the owner and executive chef of a food truck.
Fun Facts About Daylynn
Favorite dish: Chicken Alfredo
Activities she likes to do in her spare time: "In my spare time, I like to cook for my family and friends. Additionally, I love writing poetry and singing."
The impact she would like to have on the food and restaurant industry: "I'd like to take what I learn as a US Foods Scholar and start my own food truck someday. I hope to become a well-known executive chef, and influence others to pursue a path in the culinary arts industry that isn’t an ordinary one, just like mine."
New Rochelle, New York
Erik is a first-year student at the Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York. He plans to study culinary arts and hospitality.
He has been cooking since he was 10 years old. His family has been a major influence on him, teaching him a great deal about Caribbean cuisine. When they saw he was interested in pursuing a culinary career, they pushed him to learn different styles of cooking and become a more well-rounded chef.
As a US Foods® Scholar, Erik wants to continue to hone his culinary skills, and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional chef and opening his own restaurant.
Fun Facts About Erik
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: "My most memorable moment in the kitchen was when my chef allowed me to co-teach his class with him. It was an honor I wasn’t worthy of yet, but when put in that position, I did well and was able to teach the underclassmen several techniques that took me years to learn. The experience flooded me with an enormous sense of pride."
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: "With this opportunity, my dream becomes closer to reality, and it allows me to learn from chefs who I would have never had the opportunity to meet."
The impact he would like to have on the food and restaurant industry: "My goal is to become a prominent figure in the food and restaurant industry someday. I hope to give as much as I can to the next generation of chefs, in the same way this current generation of chefs has given to me."
Jessica is a rising first-year baking and pastry student, school undecided.
Jessica’s passion for the culinary arts stemmed from her sister Danielle, a former Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP) student, whose career path inspired her. As a child, Jessica began baking cupcakes for friends and family, and it made her happy knowing others enjoyed her creations. She was thrilled that baking and pastry provided a way for her to combine her love for art and cooking into a single passion.
As a US Foods® Scholar, she hopes to become a professional baking and pastry chef. She currently has her own small business called “Jessica Sweets!” and hopes to learn how to design the pastries seen in the windows of baking and pastry shops.
Fun Facts About Jessica
Favorite dish to prepare: "I have three: pound cake, cheesecake and lasagna."
Activities she likes to do in her spare time: "I love to play video games with my friends most of the time, but I’m a digital artist as well, drawing pieces of art for personal projects or commissions. I also love knitting and building in my spare time."
What being a US Foods Scholar means to her: "It means I am a part of a greater field of work, and that there are options available to me. It also means that I will be able to learn from other chefs who can help me succeed in the culinary industry. Most importantly, it is something I feel incredibly thankful for."
New Rochelle, New York
Keianna is a first-year student at the Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York, where she will be working toward her Bachelor’s Degree in culinary arts and hospitality management.
Keianna started cooking at the age of six and was making full meals by the time she was 12 years old. Her mother inspired her in cooking, always making something in the kitchen during her childhood and teaching her the skills she needed to succeed.
As a US Foods® Scholar, Keianna hopes to explore different places in the world, embrace their cultures and learn how to make ethnic cuisines. She thrives on getting out of her comfort zone.
Fun Facts About Keianna
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: "My most memorable moments in the kitchen have come from when I cook with my mom. When we cook together, the kitchen is always filled with laughter and conversation."
What being a US Foods Scholar means to her: "It means that I worked to the best of my abilities, and have the support of an organization that will take care of me and guide my success."
The impact she would like to have on the food and restaurant industry: "The impact I would like to have on the restaurant industry stems from who I am as a person. I am a woman of color striving to make a name for myself in a male-dominated industry. I want people to know that while I make mistakes, I learn from them and push forward. I want to inspire others to have the same courage to pursue their own careers in the food and restaurant industry, like I have."
Mikiara is a first-year student at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois, where she will be majoring in culinary arts.
Her culinary career started at the age of eight, when she tried to melt scrambled eggs and ended up making an omelet. Growing up around food, her family was the inspiration behind her pursuit of a career in the culinary arts.
Being a US Foods® Scholar will help Mikiara pursue her goal of working in a restaurant with a strong reputation, and eventually, owning one of her own.
Fun Facts about Mikiara
Favorite dish to prepare: "Any dishes having to do with sweets are my favorite things to make. I love cupcakes in particular, because they are versatile and can be customized in thousands of different ways."
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: "My most memorable kitchen experience was helping prep for a Marcus Samuelsson book-viewing party. Watching how everything unfolded, then meeting Marcus Samuelsson, was great. It was one of my favorite experiences."
What being a US Foods Scholar means to her: "With the help of US Foods, it means that I have the ability to achieve a dream that normally would’ve put me through years of debt."
Reagan is a first-year student studying hotel and restaurant management at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Reagan’s interest in the culinary arts stemmed from watching her mother and grandmother in the kitchen growing up. Getting to see them bake for the holidays ultimately inspired her to pursue baking and pastry herself.
Being a US Foods® Scholar will help Reagan achieve her dream of one day owning a small neighborhood café where people can feel at home.
Fun Facts about Reagan
Favorite dish to prepare: "One of my favorite things to prepare is pies. I love the process that goes into making them."
What being a US Foods Scholar means to her: "Being a US Foods scholar is very important to me, because it means that I am able to pursue what I love – which would be much more difficult for my family if I did not have this scholarship."
The impact she would like to have on the food and restaurant industry: "I would like to have an impact in a small area. I want to own a place that has regulars and makes people smile when they walk in. I want to create a place where people can try foods they wouldn’t normally expect to enjoy."
Samantha is a first-year student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, where she will be studying nutritional sciences.
Samantha’s interest in the culinary arts was sparked by her love of the idea that food brings people together, and her appreciation of the art that comes with preparing a dish. She saw this idea reflected in her family and culture, and began cooking at an early age when her mother showed her how to make a quesadilla.
As a US Foods® Scholar, Samantha hopes to learn about the chemistry behind the food people eat in order to advance her knowledge of its health benefits. In the future, she hopes to create dishes that are both nutritious and tasty, and she would love to give people advice and develop healthy recipes.
Fun Facts about Samantha
Most memorable moment in the kitchen: "My most memorable moment in the kitchen was the first time I helped my mother make tamales. My whole family was sitting around the table having a good time helping out."
What being a US Foods Scholar means to her: "I am honored to be a US Foods Scholar. This opportunity will allow me to further my education in order to achieve my career goals."
The impact she would like to have on the food and restaurant industry: "I would love to be able to show the food and restaurant industry several ways to improve the health and nutrition of different foods and recipes."
New Rochelle, New York
Tianna is a first-year student at the Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College in New Rochelle, New York, where she will be majoring in baking and pastry arts.
Coming from a Latin background, Tianna’s grandparents were the ones who inspired her to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Cooking is a central part of her family life, from trying new recipes to making family-oriented foods.
Being a US Foods® Scholar will help Tianna achieve her goals of getting her Associate Degree in baking and pastry arts, as well as her Bachelor’s in business management and hospitality. After achieving her educational goals, she hopes to open her own bakery.
Fun Facts about Tianna
Favorite dish to prepare: "My favorite dish to prepare is a soul food dish with macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and chicken marinated in soy sauce."
What being a US Foods Scholar means to her: "Being a US Foods Scholar means a lot to me, because it gives me the opportunity to live my dream and be a part of a community of others who have achieved so much and worked as much as I have to get here."
The impact she would like to have on the food and restaurant industry: "I would like to impact how women are represented in the kitchen, because we can truly do anything as well as men can. Not only that, but if I own a bakery, I want to bring in a diverse culture to it."
2019 US Foods Spring Scholars
Raleigh, North Carolina
Amber Fuqua is a hospitality management student at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina. She started cooking at a young age after her dad asked her to prepare dinner each night for the family while he was at work. Amber’s dad bought her a variety of cookbooks to help her learn the ropes, and naturally, she developed a passion for all things food.
Growing up, Amber and her family faced several hardships, but they worked together to make the most of what they had. Her childhood gave her a true appreciation for being able to put food on the table. Amber’s experiences have stuck with her and have inspired her to pursue a career in the culinary arts and get involved with organizations like the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.
Being a US Foods Scholar will allow Amber to continue her education in hospitality management after graduating from Wake Technical Community College in summer 2019. Her goal is to become a wedding planner and to continue her involvement in the fight against hunger.
Fun Facts about Amber
Favorite dish: “Potato casserole! I also really love to bake anything sweet, preferably brownies.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “My most memorable moment was the first time I cooked pho, a popular Vietnamese dish, with my boyfriend. It connected us relationally, as well as culturally.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Accepting this award fills me with gratification because I have now been exposed to both ends of the spectrum. By this, I simply mean that I know what it is like to go without food, as well as what it is like to be in a financially stable situation that allows you to truly enjoy what you eat.”
Angel’o Hill is a student at the Art Institute of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts management.
For the last 14 years, Angel’o has used cooking to unite family and friends and create memories. He learned that his food brought people together and helped mend issues with loved ones. This inspired him to go back to school to expand his culinary knowledge and ultimately, pursue a career in the industry.
As a US Foods Scholar, Angel’o hopes to learn more about global cuisines and fine dining through mentorship opportunities and continued education. After he graduates from the Art Institute of Atlanta, he plans to attend Georgia State University, also in Atlanta, to obtain a master’s degree in hospitality management. Angel’o’s goal is to become a travel consultant focused on culinary experiences. Eventually, he wants to develop restaurant chains that cater to a wide variety of styles and cultures.
Fun Facts about Angel’o
Favorite dish: “I can’t pick just one! A few of my go-to favorites are quiche; cilantro, lime and garlic chicken with yellow infused rice; and lamb with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh arugula salad.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “My most memorable moment in the kitchen was Thanksgiving 2018, when I was the sous chef at a high-end independent retirement living facility. It was great to be in the kitchen and be able to serve and bless the residents with a great Thanksgiving meal.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It shows me that I have the opportunity to be greater and succeed. It inspires me to be an example for future culinary students.”
Destinee Chatman is a baking and pastry student at the Art Institute of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia.
Destinee was five years old when she started following her grandmother around the kitchen and watching her whip up creative recipes using whatever ingredients were on hand. As she got older, she discovered food personalities like Buddy Valastro, Rachael Ray and Ree Drummond and grew to admire their passion for cooking and ability to make connections through food. After years of watching her idols cook, Destinee realized it was her dream to leave her own mark on the food and restaurant industry.
Being a US Foods Scholar will help Destinee accomplish her goal of owning a food business. She hopes to open a food truck that offers dishes for kids and adults alike and wants to build her own bakery franchise. Destinee also looks forward to using her future success to educate and inspire aspiring culinary leaders.
Fun Facts about Destinee
Favorite dish: “Most people take this as a surprise, but I have yet to discover a favorite dish. I rarely make the same dish twice because I like to broaden my palette and challenge myself to produce new things.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “My most memorable moments will always be turning out dishes. I love to see how everyone’s hard work and preparation comes together to create a beautiful outcome.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It means that people will hear my background story and appreciate the passion and love I have for the culinary industry. This program also gives me the opportunity to continue developing the skills I need to become a world-class baker.”
Liliana Flores is a first-year baking and pastry and foodservice management student at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Colorado.
Liliana has been cooking and baking for 10 years. Her interest was inspired by her father, who shares her love of being in the kitchen and taught her the link between creating good food and making people happy. She was also inspired by her mother, who is just as creative in the kitchen and taught her how to make her favorite dishes. Liliana knew early on that this was her passion and that it was something that she wanted to turn into a career.
As a US Foods Scholar, Liliana will continue to learn more about the food and restaurant industry and explore new and different foods. After graduation, she hopes to achieve her dreams of traveling the world, helping create comfortable and inclusive restaurant environments and opening her very own cake shop. Liliana is also committed to identifying and offering food options that cater to people with food allergies and dietary restrictions.
Fun Facts about Liliana
Favorite dish: “My favorite dish to prepare is spaghetti.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “One of the most memorable moments in the kitchen was when I was making a birthday cake for a party, and my chocolate cake was stuck to the pan. I was ready to give up, but I didn’t. Instead, I took a deep breath and went back to working. I made another cake and turned the cracked cake into cake pops. Both were a hit! I always think back to this moment because it gives me confidence that I should never give up.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It means having a great opportunity to new doors and new culinary connections.”
Raleigh, North Carolina
Lillie Hood is a baking and pastry arts student at Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Lillie’s love for all things food has been years in the making. She started baking when she was a child, and as she got older, she became more interested in learning about the different aspects and techniques of baking. Lillie describes herself as organized and artistic and felt that those traits, combined with her skills and passion for baking, were a natural fit for a career as a pastry chef. With the encouragement of her family and friends, she decided to pursue an education in the culinary arts.
Being a US Foods Scholar will help Lillie accomplish her goal of becoming a pastry chef and opening her own bakery in her hometown, McGee's Crossroads, North Carolina. She looks forward to creating spectacular dishes and finding ways to use her baking to give back to the food industry and her local community.
Fun Facts about Lillie
Favorite dish: “I love baking cakes. My dad has alpha-gal and cannot eat dairy products, so I like to mess around with different ingredients and figure out what works and tastes good, so he can enjoy my creations.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “My most memorable moment was when a fellow peer put too much powdered sugar in their mixer to make buttercream icing. When they turned it on, it went everywhere. It reminded me that no matter what age or skill level you are, no one is perfect, and we can all learn from little mistakes.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Being a US Foods Scholar means that my dedication is not going unnoticed. It gives me a boost to not give up on my dreams, and it’s something I can be proud of during challenging times.”
Molly Leibbrandt is a culinary arts and food service management student at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, Colorado.
Molly first developed a fascination with cooking when she took a health and nutrition class during her sophomore year in high school. She also loved watching cooking shows and admired the creativity of the chefs who worked under pressure. After taking a ProStart class during her senior year, Molly started to envision herself as a future chef and decided to pursue culinary arts as a career.
As a US Foods Scholar, Molly will take what she is learning and apply it to her current job at the Four Seasons Hotel in Denver. She hopes to continue working her way up in restaurants, eventually advancing to an executive chef position. Her ultimate dream is to own a restaurant that serves locally sourced dishes. In addition to her culinary career, Molly looks forward to working with other chefs and leaders to help solve the food waste issue in the restaurant industry.
Fun Facts about Molly
Favorite dish: “My family really likes my egg rolls, and I love making food that they enjoy. There are a lot of cuts involved to make them just right, and they can take a lot of time, but the finished product is always delicious!”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “I decided to make cannoli from scratch for an anatomy and physiology class my senior year. It was for a project where we had to demonstrate a blood clotting disorder. It took me three hours to make them, but my classmate and I received extra credit because of our creativity. Others in the class also asked me to make more!”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Being a US Foods Scholar means that all my hard work has paid off. I feel more confident that I can accomplish what I put my efforts toward. I am very proud to have received this award, and I am very grateful to US Foods for selecting me.”
Stevani Flahaut is a first-year culinary science student at Austin Community College in Austin, Texas.
Stevani has been cooking since she was 10 years old. Growing up, her mother was a single parent and prepared simple meals and boxed dinners for Stevani and her brother. Stevani started to experiment with how she could create new and different dishes and took on the role of making dinner every night. Since then, her passion for cooking has only grown. Between working, cooking for family and friends and meal prepping, Stevani spends her days in the kitchen and loves every minute of it.
Being a US Foods Scholar will allow Stevani to work with chefs who share her passion for the culinary arts. She wants to develop her own character and cooking style and become a chef who puts pride and soul into her dishes. Eventually, she wants to run her own food operation that reflects her cooking philosophy.
Fun Facts about Stevani
Favorite Dish: “If I had to choose just one dish, it would be a Thai cuisine called TigerCry – a seared beef and scallion salad with celery leaves, Thai basil, peppers, onions and lots of spice. The fresh salad is tossed with a chili soy sauce dressing and will knock your socks off.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “When I was 21 years old, I was hired as a sous chef for Latitude 28°02' in Rockport, Texas, a renowned restaurant owned by executive chef Craig Day. The year I was hired he also celebrated his 14th year of operations. When I was 22, I lead our three-person kitchen staff in breaking his record of 184 heads serviced. That night, we serviced 214 people. No food was sent back. It was a milestone for Craig and an achievement I will hold dear to me forever.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It means I was given a chance to pursue a career in what I love to do the most without the financial burdens of loans. It means I can take a deep breath and enjoy going to school, working part time and having time for extracurricular activities. It is an honor to have been chosen as a US Foods Scholar. I cannot wait to see the proud faces of my family and friends, as I will be the first person in my family to receive a college degree.”
2018 US Foods Scholars
Bran’de Gilbert is a first-year baking & pastry student at Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts in Chicago. She started cooking at the age of three, when her father taught her how to pick and clean greens. After a few more years of shadowing her parents in the kitchen, she eventually became responsible for cooking the majority of her family’s meals.
Bran’de realized that she wanted to turn her love for cooking into a career during her sophomore year in high school, following a five-week culinary exploratory program at Simeon Career Academy. She began taking advantage of all the resources available at her school, including working closely with the culinary teacher, and going on a trip to Canada with a group of other students interested in culinary arts.
Being a US Foods Scholars is helping Bran’de achieve her dream of becoming a pastry chef. Her goal is to own multiple bakeries and/or pastry trucks–and inspire other young students like herself to pursue a career in the culinary industry.
Fun Facts about Bran’de
Favorite dish: “Brownies. I love to make different types of candy-flavored brownies.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “Last year, when I made homemade pasta from scratch for the very first time.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Working hard, maintaining good grades, never giving up when things get tough and always communicating.”
Diana Diaz is a freshman at Arizona State University majoring in nutrition.
Diana’s passion for the culinary arts started early, when she would cook with her Nana, and was solidified after taking a culinary class her junior year of high school.
Being a US Foods Scholar is helping Diana pursue her passion of becoming a nutritionist and making a difference in society. She wants to take the negative connotations out of “diet” by teaching others who may have dietary restrictions how to eat in a way that betters their lives, while still enjoying creative, delicious and satisfying dishes.
Fun Facts about Diana
Most memorable kitchen moment: “My most memorable moment in the kitchen was my C-CAP final competition, because of the adrenaline that I felt. You’re on a time limit and trying to make a really delicious dish that’s not only good but presentable too!”
Hobbies: “In my spare time, I play softball and soccer, and I am in leagues for both sports. I also like hiking with my partner and our nephew and niece.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Like many other students I know, I understand what it's like to not be able to pay for college. The fact that I was given the opportunity to be a US Foods Scholar means everything because I know it will help me find success in my career, and it insipires me to give back to those who will need help in the future.”
Elliott Moore is a freshman majoring in culinary arts at Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Illinois.
Elliott has been cooking for over seven years. His interest in the culinary arts was sparked by his father, who he grew up watching in the kitchen. When Elliott
had the opportunity to take culinary classes in high school, this only solidified his passion. His father is an avid supporter of his career goals and continues to encourage Elliott to follow his dreams.
As a US Foods Scholar, Elliott hopes to earn his degree in the culinary arts and eventually pursue his dream of being a professional chef on a cruise ship.
Fun Facts about Elliott
Favorite dish: “Fried chicken strips!”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “My most memorable moment in the kitchen is when my teacher threw my plate of food away and told me to start over because he knew I could do better.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Being a US Foods Scholar means a lot because it opens up new doors for me and allows me to pursue my dream of becoming a chef.”
Gabrielle Siegfried is a first-year baking & pastry and hospitality management student at Kendall College’s School of Culinary Arts in Chicago.
Gabrielle’s passion for the culinary arts stems from her love of bringing people together. She learned the impact of making connections through food by watching cooking shows and baking with her grandmother. Gabrielle began cooking regularly when she was in middle school and became the resident baker for her art club. Not only were her creations an instant hit with the other members, but they inspired Gabrielle to pursue a career as a pastry chef.
Being a US Foods Scholar helps Gabrielle work towards her dream of attaining her degree in the culinary arts and hospitality management, and to continue using baking to connect with people of all backgrounds. After she graduates, she hopes to pursue a career working for a food company that offers a wide array of career opportunities and encourages other students to achieve their dreams.
Fun Facts about Gabrielle
Favorite dish: “Any kind of cookie or cake!”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “Making my parents a four-course meal for my dad’s birthday all by myself.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “The door of opportunity is now open in ways I never could have imagined, and all of my hard work is paying off.”
Jackson Gilmore is a first-year human resources management student at Oregon State University and has been cooking for four years.
Jackson was inspired by his culinary teacher, Patti Pastor, to pursue a career in the culinary arts.
Being a US Foods Scholar is helping Jackson pursue his dream of owning and operating a fly fishing lodge that serves outstanding food. He also wants to be a role model for sustainability not only in the kitchen, but in how society views sourcing fish.
Fun Facts about Jackson
Favorite dish: “Baked Alaska.”
Most memorable kitchen moment: “My most memorable moment was when I was a chef at a fly fishing camp in the Alaskan bush. Each week, the float plane landed and I had to think on my feet and adapt my weekly menu from what I ordered, to what I actually received.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “Being a US Foods Scholar means everything. Without the support of US Foods, I could not go to Oregon State.”
Joseph Garza was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, and is a first-year student at the Culinary Institute of America in New York.
Joseph’s passion for cooking was inspired by his grandmother. Starting when he was nine years old, he would regularly watch and cook alongside her in the kitchen, starting off with simple tasks and working his way up to larger meals.
Being a US Foods Scholar is helping Joseph pursue an education at one of the top culinary schools in the United States and live his personal mantra of not “working”, but instead making a living by doing what he loves.
Fun Facts about Joseph
Most memorable kitchen moment: “It’s probably one of my first cooking experiences with my grandma. A more recent one would be me and my close friend making pizza in my kitchen. Just watching him try something I enjoy doing was fun, and his reactions on the tasty end-result were even better.”
What it means to be a US Foods Scholar: “It’s another stepping stone and partnership in my life to make my dream and goals so much more real. It’s a great opportunity.”
Hobbies: “In addition to cooking, I also enjoy reading and writing.”