Reynolds Culinary Student Profile:
Meet Shalise Turner
What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I worked for a restaurant for several years in many positions, then I got married and my husband at the time encouraged me to open a cafe. I went to San Fransico to study how to mix herbal teas for health and enjoyment purposes and learned how to prepare simple elegant cafe style foods. My cafe started off as a tea and coffee shop, then I added simple foods and over time it became a small jazz shop. On the weekends I would offer a pre-fixed three-course menu and live music for two.
Where are you in your culinary studies?
I am a triple major student at Reynolds. I have nearly completed my degree in culinary art and I have a few classes left in my culinary management degree. I am about halfway with my Horticulture degree, which I am studying at Reynolds. I have taken a few of the classes I need to transfer to Johnson and Wales when the transfer agreement is completed.
What are you working on now?
I work full time at VCU Health the local number one trauma hospital downtown. I am a roundsman in the patient care kitchen.
What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
I really enjoy washing dishes. I love to cook yet my fellow students enjoy using a number of dishes and pans so we have a large amount of dishes that need to be handled at the end of lab. I feel that there is a sense of tranquility that comes when I wash dishes because I know the meal was complete and someone got to enjoy it and I am just readying the next chef for his or her turn at greatness. Most people don't enjoy doing the dishes. But I think it gives you some time alone with your thoughts so you can reflect on how things went during class.
What is your favorite ingredient?
Garlic and onions, I love them because they are a perfect pair. Like a good balanced marriage both are great on their own yet together they make a wonderful base for anything from a sauce to a marinade. They are very diverse and can be complex or dulled down.
Do you have a “signature dish”?
When I opened my second restaurant I had a signature sandwich which was called the "Big Mother Trucker" because I was located near a truck stop and it weighed nearly a pound. I would offer food challenges to people who could complete it. The sandwich was made up of two Texas toast grill cheese sandwiches, quarter pound burger patties, sauteed onions and peppers, bacon, french fries and close slaw with lettuce, tomato, and cheese. It was served with fries and a house mayo and spicy spread
What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
I would really like to be a personal chef or a chef with a medical facility focused on organic growth for health care purposes. Since I have worked in the restaurant scene and enjoyed it I would like to venture out into another area where I can still enjoy my craft yet not so much of the burnout from a restaurant.
What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
To be honest, I do not have one, Richmond has so many options when it comes to dining. I love local foods yet I am crazy about authentic cultural foods.
What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
I would tell them that it is a wonderful program and it is full of challenges not just academic but ones that test your character and help you build confidence in yourself and your skills. The teachers are amazing because they come from all walks of life and they truly have a love for the craft and they have the desire for you to learn it the right way and to enjoy it. I appreciate that they are so talented and have used their skills to experience a number of great things in the industry and they bring back the good and the bad of the craft. Things are not sugar coated. They expect you to want to learn and it is not made easy, yet they are reasonable and fair.