Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Reynolds Culinary Students Don't Just Shine 

. . . They Glow

Professors always appreciate hearing kind words about their students. So, getting a full-fledged epistle like the one below is as unexpected and rewarding as a perfect chocolate souffle.

Reynolds culinary students make their professors and their college proud. They are a dedicated, hardworking group, devoted to learning and perfecting their craft. Chef Jesse has taught them that even the smallest details matters . . . and they have learned that lesson well. 

Read what Melissa Collier of Everyday Gourmet wrote to Chef Jesse Miller about Reynolds students on not one, but two occasions. In the first email the "Sam" Melissa is referring to is Sam Bausone, one of two Reynolds students to win the 2019 Elby Student of the Year Award; "Anna" is Annamarie Zanetti. In the second email, "John" is John Bradley, the other student who won the 2019 Elby Student of the Year Award. 

Pictured here from top to bottom, Sam Bausone, Annamaria Zanetti, and John Bradley.

From: Melissa Collier 
Sent: Wednesday, May 1, 2019 11:58 AM
To: Jesse Miller <>
Subject: Everyday Gourmet and the 2019 Elby Awards

Good Afternoon,

My name is Melissa Collier and I am the office manager at Everyday Gourmet. I wanted to come down to the school and tell you this in person, but I know you are very busy and I did not want to catch you at a time that you would not have moment to really appreciate what I have to say.

On Sunday, April 28th, Everyday Gourmet catered the 2019 Elby Awards at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for 550 people.  We had two students from your Pastry Arts program volunteer their time to assist us in executing this very important event and it would not have been a success with out them. Sam and Anna were nothing short of phenomenal. They both played key roles in making sure our diverse, delicate and intricate passed hors d'oeuvres were properly and uniformly assembled then presented beautifully on our passing trays. They both had lovely, attentive, indefatigable and helpful attitudes and showed me that they have what it takes to succeed in this industry.

In 2007, I graduated from J. Sargent Reynolds with my A.A.S in Culinary Arts. I would not be who I am today without the amazing education that I received from Reynolds and I see myself in both Sam and Anna. Having them with me, working so hard with and for me, really touched my heart.

Anna showed up on time with a smile on her face. She saw all of us setting up and everyone focused, going from here to there and immediately set her belongings down and offered her help. She was ready to hit the night head on and she knocked it out of the park.  Anna was kind, curious and I could feel her heart and soul going into everything she did.  From having a notebook with pen in hand ready to take notes when I started to explain how the hors d'oeuvres were going to be constructed to having to dance around 10+ cooks in our small tent while still making sure those delicate cucumber cups and deviled eggs were filled and garnished just right during passing time to not hesitating to get down and dirty during clean up, Anna was extraordinary every step of the way.  I personally loved her thoughtfulness of her fellow workers, offering up waters she brought from home, had bandaids at the ready for any mishap that may happen and her passion not only for her work but for her family. She must have lovingly mentioned her family ten times over the course of the evening, how they were excited for her to work this event, how much they wanted to try the food and how much they meant to her. I made sure she got some to go containers with goodies for them to try.  I wanna meet her family and tell them what a wonderful, driven, strong, kindhearted and empathetic woman Anna is and how much of myself I see in her. I have no doubt they are proud of her and have every right to be.

Sam was a breath of fresh air. From the moment he stepped foot in my tent, I knew our crew was complete. Sam was professional, on time and ready to help in any way he could. He had passion in his eyes and his attentiveness and care for detail was exquisite. Anyone around him could feel his passion and strong will to produce his best. He was gentle, kind and willing to step up when things started rolling. I was unaware that Sam was going to be receiving the title of Rising Student and did not figured this out until he came up to me and politely asked if he could excuse himself because it was time for the awards. I could see from just the few short hours that I worked with Sam that he deserves that award. I was ecstatic when he returned, told him I was so excited for him and he deserved it and his response was that he was glad he received it but the whole time during the awards ceremony, he could only think of getting back out to help and be with us. That right there really meant something to me that I can't put into words. The infectious smile he had the whole evening is etched in my heart. He was truly a pleasure to be around and work alongside of.

This industry is special and it takes people with heart and soul and passion to succeed and be happy in their lives simultaneously and I can tell you that Sam and Anna have what it takes, hands down, and I can not wait to see the amazing, wonderful, chart topping, heart stopping things that they will produce in their careers. I was truly blessed to have the privilege of work with them.  I teared up releasing them that evening, I didn't want them to go but the event was over.

I would be honored if they would be willing to join me again on Saturday, May 11th at Dorey Park in Henrico for the Virginia Capital Trail Foundations' Annual Cap2Cap Trail Ride presented by Hardywood Brewery. We will be feeding 2,000+ cyclists and their families a salad buffet lunch at the Post Ride festival held at Dorey Park.  The hours would be from 10 a.m. to around 3 p.m.  Myself and one other employee from Everyday Gourmet will be there with the Glee Club from a local high school to help us.  This will be an amazing event and I know that they would enjoy it and learn some valuable things from being part of it. (See Melissa's follow up email below that give a recap of the May 11 event.)

I would greatly appreciate it if you would personally ask them to be part of this event with me. I want them to know how amazing they are and that you are aware of the exceptional job they did Sunday.

Thank you so much for taking the time to hear what I had to say and I eagerly await their responses regarding May 11th.

Melissa Collier
Everyday Gourmet

From: Melissa Collier 
Sent: Monday, May 13, 2019 12:03 PM
To: Jesse Miller <>
Subject: Re: Saturday May 11th Everyday Gourmet

Thank you for reaching out to John, he saved my life Saturday! Out of the nine volunteers we were supposed to have, only two showed up and an hour late.  

John was amazing and there was no way that we could have pulled off feeding the 1,400 plus we fed without him. He was there, ready to work when we arrived. We had an hour to set up two salad buffet lines and prep area with just three of us.  I think I may have said five non-work related words to John in the five plus hours he busted his butt for me. He single-handedly took care of a whole buffet line. He had no less than 200 people go through his line with no help other than me keeping his items full before our two high school student helpers showed up. I put half this event solely on John shoulders from the get go and he took it with a smile. 

He rocked through standing in the very same spot for four and a half hours straight with no breaks, no down time and was happy, talked and joked with customers and kept his non stop line rolling. John toughed through serving while getting rained on for two hours straight.  We had our tent pulled over our customers heads while they were in line receiving food and getting rained on and John did not hesitate to accommodate and be flexible. 

So many different things happened at this event and it's all still a blur. I had no time to breathe let alone be the face of our company because I was behind the scenes keeping the lines stocked and I thank God John was there. I was proud to have him there. I felt his confidence and I knew, when we were 30 min away from guests arriving and all I had was him, my husband and myself, that he was going to be amazing.  I literally put him in the weeds, close to drowning, after only having met him 30 minutes prior.  I have to work with him again. I feel speechless regarding him and his performance.  I am still in AWE. 

Thank you again for reaching out to your students.  I will contact you again soon, I know we have more events coming up that I would love to have students at. 

Melissa Collier

Note: Several Culinary students will be helping Melissa again at Broad Appetite on Sunday, June 2. If you plan to attend, please stop by the Everyday Gourment booth and let them know you are part of the Reynolds community.