Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Nick Shipman honored as Culinary Student of the Year at this year's Elby Awards

Roving Reporter Dylan Chaplin recently interviewed Nick Shipman, a Reynolds culinary arts student who won this year's Culinary Student of the Year Elby award. They discussed his time at Reynolds, the Elby awards, and his future in the culinary field.
D.C. - Are you a student at Reynolds, or have you graduated? If you are still a student, what do you hope to do after graduation?

N.S. - I am currently a student at Reynolds.  After graduation I plan on moving to Chicago to pursue my culinary career. 

D.C. - What are/were your favorite classes at Reynolds and why?

N.S. - My favorite Reynolds classes are International Cuisine, which I am currently taking, and American Regional Cuisine, which I have just finished.  I enjoy these the most because these classes move beyond the fundamentals of the culinary program and they begin to explore the culinary world on a much larger scale.  Students also get to utilize the skills that they have learned in all of the other classes combined.

D.C. - How did you get interested in the culinary field?
N.S. - I’ve been asked this question many times, and I often struggle to provide people with the answer they are looking for.  All I can say is that it just feels right. Perhaps it was the time spent in the kitchen with my mother when I was growing up that guided my life and career path in this direction.  Either way, I know with absolute certainty that this is what I was meant to do.
D.C. - Tell me a little bit about your experiences at the Elby Awards.

N.S. - The Elby Awards were an amazing experience.  It was exciting to be surrounded by people who share a passion for food and cooking.  I have worked in Richmond as a cook for the last three years, and it was wonderful to have many of the people that I respect and have worked with congratulate me on being recognized.

D.C. - What key training or experience allowed you to separate yourself from the other students that were nominated for the award?
N.S. - This is a difficult question, because I didn’t recognize myself as separate from the rest of the culinary students.  If I’ve had greater success in the program, it's as a result of the guidance and experience I’ve acquired from working for some great people in the industry.  These include Chefs Ellie Basch and Jannequin Bennett of Everyday Gourmet, and Chef Dale Reitzer of Acacia Midtown, to name a few.
D.C. - How has Reynolds helped you accomplish your dreams of working in the culinary field?
N.S. - Reynolds has done so much to help me accomplish my goals.  The instructors in the program teach students what it takes to be successful in the industry.  They do more than relay information that is presented in our many textbooks.  They guide us with their years of experience in the field, and show us how to think about food and not just “prepare a recipe.”
D.C - What would be your advice for someone looking at going into the culinary field?
N.S - I would advise anyone going into the culinary field to spend some time in a professional kitchen, even if it's for a short period.  This is a tough industry that requires dedication, passion, toughness, hard work, and a strong will.  If you are not prepared to give it everything you have, then this is not for you.  Being a cook or a chef is not a job, it must be a lifestyle.
D.C. - If you could only have one last meal in Richmond, where would it be and what would you order?
N.S. - If I could have one last meal in Richmond, it would be at Acacia Midtown - the first restaurant kitchen I worked in.  It is easily one of the best (if not the best) restaurants in the city.  The kitchen staff is amazing, and the vibe that is cultivated in the kitchen is beyond compare - this is evident in the food.  Everything on the menu is fantastic, but if I had to choose something specific, it would be some of the signature items such as the Calamari Salad, which is a warm salad of fried calamari, napa cabbage, carrots, pickled red onion, and cilantro tossed in a curry vinaigrette.  I would also choose the crab cakes, which are typically served with grits and seasonal vegetables.  The crab cakes are simple, but excellent and well executed.
D.C. - What opportunities are you currently exploring?
N.S. - I am currently working as a line cook at Maple & Pine at the Quirk Hotel in downtown Richmond.  I have been working there since the opening in October.  I am currently planning a trip to Chicago to explore some opportunities before I move there sometime next year.  It is my hope to continue my work in fine dining establishments to hone my skills as much as possible.  I am excited for what lies ahead.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reynolds inducts 90 into Phi Theta Kappa honor society during spring semester

Reynolds Community College’s Chapters of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society inducted 90 new members recently at their annual spring semester induction ceremony. Students who have completed 12 transferable credit hours and have a 3.3 cumulative GPA at the college are invited to join PTK every fall and spring semester. 

Cassie Matthew, founder, Hands Up Ministries delivered a motivational speech as the keynote speaker, emphasizing to the students their responsibility to serve and to lead. 

“I challenge you guys to take risks and to lead,” said Ms. Matthew.  “Everybody seems to be waiting for someone else to lead. It is your responsibility to lead. You are some of the brightest people our society has and we need leaders like you.

Established in 1918, Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society serves to recognize and encourage the academic achievement of two-year college students and provide opportunities for individual growth and development through honors, leadership and service programming.  Reynolds has two chapters at the college.  The Alpha Iota Beta chapter represents members enrolled in programs at the Parham Road Campus and the Alpha Gamma Omicron chapter represents members enrolled in programs at the Goochland and Downtown campuses.  Since 1997 when the Reynolds’ Phi Theta Kappa Alpha Gamma Omicron Chapter was founded, Reynolds has inducted over 6,700 students into PTK. 

Reynolds Cares with Nancy Mihalko, Grants & Development Research Manager

In an effort to encourage more Reynolds employees to get involved in volunteering and to highlight some of the valuable community service efforts that our employees are already engaged in, the Reynolds LEADS team recently interviewed several Reynolds employees about their experience as volunteers in the local community. This is the second installment of the "Reynolds Cares" series.

Q: Can you describe your volunteer effort(s)? What group do you serve and what is their mission?
NM: I volunteer for Meals on Wheels here in Richmond, an organization that delivers meals to elderly & shut-in individuals who cannot get out to buy and prepare their own meals. MoW partners with the local food bank, and divides the service area into small segments, where volunteers deliver foods to multiple clients in a given area. Clients pay what they are able to, on sliding scale and some may not be able to pay at all, but it is an important mission. MoW is an amazing organization; they have a really large network of volunteers here in Richmond and they are incredibly well-organized. When volunteers pick up the prepared foods, they are given detailed directions to the client locations, and MoW keeps track of all dietary restrictions clients may have. 

I began organizing a Reynolds volunteer group in 2007, and we now have about 20 people from Advancement, the Office of Institutional Effectiveness, and Marketing & Communications who take turns volunteering in pairs. We make deliveries the 3rd Friday of each month. We are assigned to an area close to the college.  Volunteers pick up the prepared meals and make deliveries to around 16 clients, which takes about 2 ½ hours. 

Q: How or why did you get involved in volunteering?

NM: I started volunteering with a friend about 12 years ago, who got involved with Meals on Wheels through her workplace. When her work group started falling apart, I thought I’d try to get a group from Reynolds together.  Also, at the time I stated I had elderly parents who lived in another state, whom I couldn’t visit as often as I would have liked. So this gave me the opportunity to feel like I was helping someone’s else’s parents out, and giving back.  

It has been well worth it; you wouldn’t believe how gratifying it is. Some of the people we see are just so happy to see someone, and so grateful. The food is not as important as the human contact—they need the nutrition, but more than that, they need the human contact. And this organization provides both. 

Q: Do your volunteer efforts impact your job at Reynolds?

NM: I use my volunteer leave time, which is 16 hours per year, and it has never run out. This year I will probably use 8-10 hours. I got a great response when I sent out the email to see if people would be interested. 

Q: Do you have any tips for others who want to get involved?

NM: Just take the plunge! The volunteer leave time is there to use, and [college] leadership has been very supportive. It helps to have a group, so that no one person feels like they are taking on more than they can handle. And once a month feels more manageable. You do need someone to coordinate the effort, who can keep people organized and on schedule with the volunteer commitments, otherwise the whole thing can fall apart. And I try to keep a log and send everyone who volunteers in the MoW group a LEAP award, so that they feel appreciated.