Thursday, April 8, 2010

CIC Gives Diversity Dinner as 2010 Charleston Wine + Food Festival Event

Pictured at Top Center at the Dining for Diversity event are (from left) Farmer Lee Jones, Chef Matthew Raiford, Chef Marvin Woods, Chef Roberto Santibenez, Chef Alex Askew, Andrea Robinson, Chef Ron Duprat, Chef Al Stephens, Chef Peng Looi, TTC President Mary Thornley, Chef Kyle Ketchum, and Chef Kevin Mitchell.
The Culinary Institute of Charleston at Trident Technical College hosted a “Dining for Diversity” dinner March 6, which featured celebrity chefs from across the country. The dinner, part of the BB&T Charleston Wine + Food Festival, was held to raise awareness of the movement to bring diversity to the culinary field and to launch the first student chapter of the BCA in the Southeast at the Culinary Institute of Charleston.

The BCA is a nationwide nonprofit educational and networking organization of hospitality and food service professionals that provides educational and professional opportunities for culinary and hospitality professionals of color. The event was hosted by BCA President Alex Askew and Culinary Institute of Charleston Chef Instructor Kevin Mitchell.
“This event showcased the level of diversity that is found in professional kitchens across the country,” said Chef Mitchell. “It also highlighted to our students that the culinary field offers unlimited career opportunities for people of color.”
Six other renowned chefs worked with 15 Culinary Institute students to prepare a six-course dinner with paired wines for more than 50 guests. The dinner was held at the Culinary Institute’s 181 Palmer Dining Room on the college’s Palmer Campus in downtown Charleston.
“The students, faculty and facility are top notch at the Culinary Institute of Charleston,” said Chef Askew. “The hard work displayed by the students’ abilities and attitude speak volumes to their educational environment.”
Celebrity chefs participating in the dinner were Chef Marvin Woods, chef/partner of Funxion restaurant in Washington, D.C., author of two cookbooks and an Emmy Award-nominated Turner Broadcasting show, “Home Plate”; Chef Peng Looi, owner of Louisville, Kentucky’s award-winning restaurant August Moon Chinese Bistro and co-owner/executive chef of Asiatique; Chef Al Stephens, corporate pastry chef overseeing Chef Todd English’s pastry program in all of his restaurants; Chef Ron Duprat, contestant on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and executive chef of Hollywood Beach, Florida’s Marriott; Chef Roberto Santibanez, owner of Fonda restaurant in Park Slope Brooklyn, New York; and Chef Kyle Ketchum, former executive chef of Newport’s The Chanler at Cliff Walk. Andrea Robinson of, Farmer Lee Jones of, and Matthew Raiford of Heritage Link Brands also attended the event.

“I have been a culinary arts educator for the past seven years and I have never worked with a more dedicated set of students than those attending the Culinary Institute of Charleston,” said Raiford, who provided food service equipment training to the students earlier in the day. “The dedication they showed was an excellent reflection of the education that they are receiving, for the students not only followed directions to the letter but were also extremely passionate about getting it all right the first time. This made for a wonderful event, and made me anxious to come back to Charleston next year!”
The celebrity chefs enjoyed cooking with the students as much as the students enjoyed getting hands-on experience with their culinary heroes. “It was a great pleasure working with knowledgeable, passionate and eager culinary students,” said Chef Looi. “They were very enthusiastic about the event and showed a very true interest in everything going on,” added Chef Ketchum.
For more information about the BCA visit or call (212) 643-6570.
Photos by Chancel Nuque.

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