Careers through Culinary Arts Program, which has been offering culinary programs to Los Angeles and Southern California high schools for underserved teenagers at risk of leaving high school without a job or college prospects for 23 years, handed out a whopping $575,771 in scholarships, at the Jonathan Club downtown on Monday to 34 seniors and 10 juniors.
The C-CAP Los Angeles Cooking Competition for Scholarships was held in person, for the first time since 2019, last month and included top finalists from more than 20 high schools representing different surrounding districts where they competed against the clock with recipes from memory as C-CAP recreated the intensity of a restaurant kitchen at Los Angeles Mission College in Sylmar. Seniors faced off in a savory and sweet cooking challenge. Students were judged by a panel of local judges that included chefs on the presentation of their dishes, knife skills, techniques in the kitchen, taste, sanitary food handling and timeliness.
The national program co-chaired by chef Marcus Samuelsson has provided education and jobs in L.A. kitchens, including Redbird, Border Grill, Socalo, Rossoblu, Jar and the Jonathan Club. Alumni include Executive Pastry Chef Anthony Greco at the new Porto’s Northridge.
“It’s been sparse lately, but I’ve had a few great students in our kitchen,” Redbird owner Neal Fraser, who donated $5,000 in scholarship funds this year tells L.A. Weekly during the ceremony. “Culinary school is expensive and it’s hard to start out when you’re saddled with $80,000 in student debt. C-CAP helps with that. It’s an employee’s market right now, and it’s hard sometimes for us to compete with a hotel that will start people at $24 an hour. We’re just not there yet, but we’re paying people more and are now able to tip the kitchen, which we haven’t been able to do in the past. Our restaurant hasn’t really been the place you just go for the paycheck, it’s about a career. You can’t fake it in the kitchen.”
Scholarship recipients came from the Los Angeles Unified, Acton-Agua Dulce, El Monte, Glendale, Murrieta Valley, Oxnard, Pasadena, Centinela Valley Union, William S. Hart and Long Beach school districts. The scholarships are set up as 529 savings account plans for each of the students, so that they get some financial literacy as well, and that they have control of their money. Some of the winners included:
Heidy Sanchez from San Fernando High School: Culinary Institute of America Full-Tuition Scholarship for the Bachelor’s Degree and the Andrea Halejian Memorial & Redbird/Vibiana Scholarship ($1,000)
Dulce Garcia from San Fernando High School: Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College Full-Tuition Scholarship and the Andrea Halejian Memorial & Redbird/Vibiana Scholarship
Jake Salgado from Pacifica: Culinary Institute of New York at Monroe College Partial-Tuition Scholarships and the Andrea Halejian Memorial & Redbird/Vibiana Scholarship
Elijah Velasquez from Murrieta Mesa: Johnson & Wales Full-Tuition Scholarship for the Bachelor’s Degree, Providence and the Andrea Halejian Memorial & Redbird/Vibiana Scholarship
Carolina Bon from Arroyo HS: Institute of Culinary Education Full-Tuition Scholarship for the Diploma in Culinary Arts, L.A. campus
Abigail Quijano, Birmingham: Institute of Culinary Education Full-Tuition Scholarship for the Diploma in Restaurant and Culinary Management, L.A. Campus