The Wilkes Community College Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts Programs partnered with local businesses and organizations to host a Culinary Career Fair at the Alleghany High School. Chefs and representatives from local businesses shared personal experiences with the students, as well as job opportunities within Alleghany County in the culinary arts field.

Shana Whitehead, owner of Muddy Creek Café; shared how her restaurant provides a fine culinary experience, which is combined, on designated evenings, with music played by live bands on their in-house stage. Jayme Shatley, executive director of The Landings at Chestnut Grove Independent & Assisted Living, stated, “Food is love! For many of my residents, meals are the highlight of their day. To ensure the best fine dining experience for residents, meals are served on fine china and prepared carefully by the staff to meet each resident’s dietary needs.” Shatley added that she absolutely loves working with the elderly because they have so many life experiences to share.

Rick Sederholt, club manager (who is also a Chef) of the Roaring Gap Club, expressed that the favorite part of his job is getting to know his club members. Chef Jean Louis Dumonet, MCF, also of the Roaring Gap Club, shared that his love of cooking developed at a very young age while growing up in the restaurant business owned by his parents in France. Chef Tony Peros of the High Meadows Country Club pointed out to the students, “There are many paths available in culinary arts. The important thing is finding what you enjoy doing and pursuing it.

Veda Johnson, counselor and finance advisor of NC Works, shared how NC Works can provide paid job shadowing opportunities for students, as well as paid internships after high school. Chef Celena Nilo, WCC lead instructor for the culinary arts program, shared educational opportunities with the students, while second-year student Tyler Glen shared his baking talents with a taste test of cookies. Beth Foster, WCC director of work-based learning, informed the students about work-based learning opportunities within the WCC Culinary program.

Talina Pipes, CCP coordinator and career coach for the Alleghany Center, facilitated the program and provided students with the opportunity to practice their soft skills by asking questions and networking after the presentations. Pipes stated, “We would like to express appreciation to the presenters and to Mr. Royal of Alleghany High School for allowing this opportunity.”