The cooks simply couldn’t get out of the kitchen.
The 2021 crop of Lorain County Community College student chefs, who created their own spin on many well-known dishes to be featured in this year’s Our Ohio magazine, felt called to come back to culinary school in one way or another.
Samantha Stewart, Katelynn Roby, Dan Willey and Anaiya Little are all LCCC Culinary Arts second-year students and were chosen by Chef Adam Schmith, program director, and Chef Bradley Ball, lead instructor, to take on the magazine’s recipe creation as a project in the fall semester.
Having always loved cooking as a child, Stewart took culinary arts in high school, but the experience left her questioning her passion for cooking.
“I took a year off from school and my mom finally pushed me to go to LCCC for Culinary Arts,” Stewart said. “I was worried about wasting money on something I didn’t want to do anymore. Boy, was I very wrong. My experience at LCCC with Chef Adam and Chef Brad has been one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had.”
An avid 4-Her growing up, Stewart said she has been around pretty much “every farm animal imaginable” including rabbits, turkeys, cows, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks and the occasional parakeet and hamster.
“I myself grow a garden every year and raise my own chickens for food and eggs,” she said. “We have raised our own chicken, beef and pork. However my favorite part of visiting farmers is continuing to learn about growing and raising my own food.”
Like Stewart, Roby wasn’t sure initially that the culinary program was a good fit for her.
“I originally came to LCCC for this program and got redirected. I graduated in the fall of 2018 with two business degrees,” Roby said. “After being out of school for a year I knew I wanted to be back in a kitchen. So, I contacted Chef Adam and now I’m here so close to graduating. I’m happy I made the choice to come back to school.”
Like Stewart and Roby, life had different plans for Willey, who is back in school in his 50s learning a whole new trade in hopes that he will be his own boss. He said some restaurants fail because the chef knows how to cook, but doesn’t know how to run a business.
“I’m just the opposite, I know how to run a business but don’t know how to cook,” said Willey, who has an MBA, a bachelor’s and an associate’s degree. “When I start my restaurant, I’ll know how to run the front and the back of the house and will work with my executive chef to get the best ingredients and provide a farm to table menu that is affordable but yet profitable.”
Willey also knows the value of farmers, having worked in the field himself.
“I sorted tomatoes that went to Heinz for ketchup and I helped in the cabbage fields for Snowfloss sauerkraut,” he said. “In 2019, I raised three hogs and 30 chickens for meat and 12 for eggs along with a garden. It’s important to know how your food is raised and you can see the difference in fresh, quality raised food.”
Little graduated from the LCCC Early College program, but came back to campus to “do something I really love and enjoy doing.
“Despite being continuously told I should focus my career and degree elsewhere like mathematics and science, I chose to listen to myself and create a future in the hospitality industry,” she said. “Having the ability to work with farmers and actually collaborate and help grow some of the produce and food we work with in the kitchen is amazing. It not only shows how much effort, time and energy it takes to properly grow something, but the amount of care, and the quality it has once it is done.”
Photo caption: From left are second year chefs Katelynn Roby, Dan Willey, Samantha Stewart and Anaiya Little with the Lorain County Community College’s Culinary Arts program, creators of the Our Ohio recipes this year.
Our Ohio magazine features stories about how Ohio agriculture is woven into our lives, profiles of Ohioans who grow, process and sell agricultural products and examines issues important to members. Our Ohio includes food stories with delicious recipes and uplifting examples of how Farm Bureau members are making their communities better. The magazine is a benefit of Farm Bureau membership.