United States Chef
Chef Smith Chef Profile
Never trust a skinny cook!
Cooking is not only a hobby but it is my passion. I always knew I loved food. My earliest obsession was dehydrated apples that my Pop made. I can remember eating them until I was sick! I can also remember tasting my first turnip right out of the ground. It was in my Pop's little garden in Fairdale, KY. We rode to the garden from his garage, about 50 yards or so, but it made it feel like I was going some where different. I remember pulling up to the edge of the field and asking him what we were going to get. He started showing me how to pull up the turnips and rinse them in the bucket of water we had on the back of the truck. I remember my Pop taking out his pocket knife and peeling a piece off and giving it to me. I remember that it had almost a sweet taste to it. Although I don't like turnips, I still can remember the little white bulbs and the taste to this day.
You can ask my mom, growing up I was never an adventurous eater, but I think as time went on and I got out on my own, it became addictive, new ingredients, new recipes, new cuisines...As I think back, I can't really remember what made me so interested. It seems to me like it just happened overnight. Still even then I never would have thought that I would have went to Culinary School.
After I graduated high school in 2000, I originally commuted to a community college out of town. I was a extremely confident person and I knew 100% that I was going to be an Early Childhood Educator. It took me 2 1/2 years to realize it was not the job for me! I quit and held a couple of small jobs before I entered the Prison world. In the small town areas getting a job at a prison is about the best you are going to do without a degree or a trade in something. I have to say for the first 5 years it was exciting. But it too became monotonous. Changes came in my life. I lost my father to lung cancer, I was married, my brother moved off to college, and moved up in the ranks at work. But with all of those changes I couldn't figure out why I felt stuck in life, like everything else was moving forward and I wasn't. My confidence pretty much diminished. I felt dread every time I had to go to work. I didn't know it at the time but I was about to make the biggest decision in my life.
In the beginning of 2008 I began thinking about changes in my career. I knew to make any money I would have to either move somewhere closer to a city or go back to school. Moving wasn't an option since my husband was moving up in ranks at work. I asked my husband and mother several times if they thought I could do it. They told me I always succeeded in anything I did. Ok, I was going back to school, but where and what for. I began searching online and looking at what professions were hiring. Nothing looked fun to me. It took me a few month to decided I was going to go back to school for myself. I was going to learn for me. If it produced a career change then fine if not then at least I knew that I had something to fall back on.
A few more months of debating and I decided that I wanted to go learn how to cook, properly. So I did my research and found out a school like the Cordon Bleu or the Culinary Institute was WAY out of my price range and I couldn't just run off for 4 years and leave my husband behind. So I began thinking about community colleges again. I had heard that the Technical College in my old hometown had a Culinary Arts program. I knew instantly that was what I wanted to do. I got all the information as how much, when classes were, how long I would have to go, and so on and figured out what I need to do to make it.
I signed up for both certificates that were offered at Altamaha Technical College. I ended up being forced to drop down in rank at work to continue to go to school. But I was determined that I was doing this for me and no one else. For a year and a half I worked a 6 and 2 rotating schedule on night shift at the prison, went to class after work 4 days a week for 4 to 5 hours a day, and for the last two months of it all, I worked 80 hours of non-paid internship (which meant no days of rest for two months) at Elements Bistro & Grill. TALK ABOUT EXHAUSTING!
But today I can proudly say that I am a 2010 Graduate of the Altamaha Technical College Culinary Arts Program. I received a certificate in Line Cook (September 2009) and Catering Specialist (June 2010).
I have to say cooking has created a balance in my life that I would not trade for anything. I hope that if you have dreams like I did, whatever they may be, I hope you take the chance and go for them.
My mentors Chef Jen Evans, Chef Eric Evans, and Chef John Mark
Awards, Honors and Societies
Georgia Counselor Association Expo- Mediterranean Cuisine Station, Honor Graduate Catering Specialist
Owner/Chef of Hungry Chef Catering, McRae Ga
Providing outstanding catering services for the Central and Southeast Georgia area.
Hungry Chef Catering
2010 - present
2009 - 2010
Food: Southern Fusion
Price: $50 or less
Catering Specialist, 2009 - 2010
- Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Julia Child)
- Culinary Text Books (Various)
- You can always purchase them online to learn alot on your own!
Chefs I recommend
- John Mark Lane (Lyons, GA)
- Eric Evans (Lyons, GA)
- Ruston Johnson (Destin, FL)