Friday, September 7, 2018

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student
Annamaria Zanetti

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I would have to say my creativity and motivation. I used to bake all the time as a kid and absolutely loved it. I enjoy sharing what I created with my friends and family.

As a kid I also danced (ballet, modern, contemporary), but once I stopped I wanted to still be involved in an art form in some way. So, I thought Pastry Arts would be the best option. Dancing and Culinary have some similarities, such as dedication and creativity.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
I am currently conducting my internship at Westhampton Bakery on Patterson Ave. Even though I have been there for about a week I have learned a lot already. Such as the proper way to ice a cake and the proper thickness for pie crust. I am looking forward to working with Chef Carrie Lammon and her team this semester. One thing I am excited about learning is how to work the dough lamentation machine.

What are you working on now?
I have recently started my Small Business Management Degree, with the intent to one day open my own bakery here in Richmond.

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
I enjoy the labs in the culinary kitchen. I like the labs because I can apply what I am learning in class.

What is your favorite ingredient?
My favorite ingredient(s) are sugar, butter, and flour because there are endless ways to use them to create different items.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
My signature dish are “brookies”, which have chocolate chip cookies on the bottom and brownies on top. All of my friends and family love the “brookies” and always ask for more.

Another item that I made once and everyone is asking for more of are my spinoff of a black forest cake, which is a chocolate cake filled with a cherry compote and vanilla buttercream. However, in my version, I made chocolate cupcakes filled with a cherry compote and topped with chocolate liquor buttercream; which I brought in for my 21st birthday.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
My end goal is to open up my own bakery here in Richmond; although, after I graduate there is still a lot to learn before I open my doors.

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
My favorite restaurant is Mayas located on East Grace Street. Maya’s is run by Chef Maria Oseguera.

My first encounter with Chef Maria was when I severed her at the Short Pump Regal movie theater. Then I met her again at the Savor Event at the Jefferson Hotel in 2016. Since then Chef Maria has been my mentor and friend.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
The program is stellar; Chef Miller is demanding because he is dedicated to helping his students learn and grow. J Sargeant Reynolds students are so fortunate to have access to the Culinary and Pastry Programs. Anyone considering this career should look closely at the program here.

As a student, I recommend keeping all of your notes and textbook, as well as using the resources provided. Chef Miller and Chef Rounds have been extremely helpful throughout the program. I can’t thank them enough for all they have done for me. Once I graduate, I will continue to reach out to them for help and advice.  

What made you choose the culinary program at Reynold’s?
Before attending Reynold’s, I did not know that there was a Culinary Program. I heard about it from a friend who participated in the Culinary Program. Thanks to her I would have never pursued Culinary Arts here.

Getting my Pastry Arts Degree has been a wonderful learning experience. If I were to go back in time I would still choose the same major.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

A Different Vision of the James

Capturing Richmond's James River as a cascading swirl of blue-blues and white-whites takes a special eye. It takes an eye capable of seeing vivid color where most of us see nothing but muddy brown. Engineer turned Artistic Photographer Scott Weaver has that kind of vision.

J. Scott Weaver recently made a generous donation of 22 of his James River Alive! waterscapes to the Reynolds Art Collection. Richmonders may have seen the James flood, may have tubed in it, or watched its levels recede in the summer months, but these 22 remarkable canvases reveal the River as most of us have never seen it before. 

Scott used a number of techniques to create these photographs. Their beauty is a result of Scott's creative use of camera techniques, digital processing, and giclee printing.* He employs all of his talents in his work and has well earned the distinction of Artistic Photographer.

Scott lives in Henrico County and is a member of the Camera Club of Richmond, and is Digital Director of the Richmond Digital Photo Club. Scott's photographs have been exhibited throughout the Richmond area. Solo exhibits of his James River Alive! works have been displayed at the main Richmond Library and the Virginia Eye Institute. 

Scott is also generous with his time and shared the following profile about himself and his art:

Were you born and raised in Richmond? If not, where?
I was born and raised in central Illinois, near Peoria. I moved to Richmond in 1983.

How did you get started with photography?
Photography has been a life-long hobby of mine. I had a dark room under the basement stairs when I was 11 years old.

My interests have always involved computers, ham radio and photography.  After college, I worked as an electrical engineer involved in digital applications.
In the 1970's I was considering leaving engineering and took a series of photography courses at the SMU Academy of Visual Arts in Dallas. The emphasis was on commercial product and fashion photography mostly in a studio setting.
In the end, I decided to stay with engineering, leaving photography as serious avocation.

How do you get started with digital photography?
My first encounter with digital imagery was in connection with my engineering work at Texas Instruments in the early 1980's. We were using mainframe computers to do image enhancements that were a really big deal at the time but are now commonplace. 

I began using digital cameras and Photoshop in 2000. I still remember the steep learning curve with Photoshop and the struggle to work through examples I could find in magazines and a few books. User friendliness has improved a lot since then.

Your donation to Reynolds is a collection of striking photographs of the James River that look almost like paintings. What did you do to capture the James that way? 
Mostly it was many trips to the river! The rapids at Belle Isle and at Pipeline Park were the best locations. I discovered that the best blue colors for the water came from cloudless skies near the middle of the day, which is not the best combination for traditional photography. I often took a wide range of shutter speeds and overall exposures for any given scene. Getting detail in the white water turbulence required HDR-like (High Dynamic Range) layering in Photoshop. I also used various edge enhancement techniques on those sections to bring out the water motion that I wanted. The blue sky reflections on the water were often boosted with Photoshop. The muddy color of the James was not the look I was after.

I think the "painting" look comes from the high level of detail that results from blending multiple exposures and printing them on canvas. Richmond Professional Labs did an excellent job of making the prints.

In your “gallery” on the Richmond Digital Photography Club website your photographs have a wide range – a staircase, a street scene with umbrellas, a car, etc. What is your favorite subject and why?
My interests evolved over time. Many years ago I was seeking out old barns and houses. Then I started visiting New York from time to time and did street photography there. After a class or two with David Everette, an accomplished photographer here in Richmond, I was fascinated by the James River. 
My most recent project has been studio product photography of several mandolins that were hand-made by Dr. David Cohen (a retired faculty member of Reynolds).

I sometimes see photography as a series of challenges: shooting shiny mandolins is difficult -- let's see if I can do it; street photography can be scary -- let's see if I can do it; David Everette's work is outstanding -- let's see if I can approach it. 

Presently my focus is on travel photography -- in retirement I have taken several European river cruises and other trips that offer their own challenges for shooting. It is necessary to quickly evaluate scene for exposure, composition, and shooting while coping with the stresses of traveling in a foreign land.

You are active in several photography clubs around Richmond and are obviously passionate about photography. What are your favorite tools of trade?
I use a Canon 5D mark III camera and a small Leica point-and-shoot.
Photoshop and associated plug-ins are definitely important tools of my trade. I Photoshop almost all my photos in some way or another. I am producing art that I freely edit to get the look I want. 

Lately I have been experimenting with image manipulation using various filters and plugins. I am still amazed at the range of effects available in the digital domain compared with the things I attempted to do in the darkroom years ago.

How much time do you devote to this pursuit?
In retirement my schedule is quite random. When I am pursuing a project, such as the mandolin website photos, I may spend several hours per day in setup, shooting and post production. But I often take long breaks from the hobby and wait for the next project to emerge.

What photographers do you most admire and why?
Jerry Uelsmann - his darkroom-produced composites really intrigued me before the digital age. I attempted to do some of them when I had a darkroom. Thank goodness Photoshop came along!

Garry Winogrand, Cartier-Bresson and others. Urban street photography and in-the-moment images were early inspirations for getting more involved in photography.

David Hockney - I am impressed by his free-wheeling imagination in creating amazing images from ordinary scenes.  I have attempted to create my own Hockney "joiner" collages but I am not ready to publish them.

The work of David Everette was the inspiration for the James River images.

*  Giclee printing is one of the finest print production processes available today. It involves a 12-color ink jet printer (traditional printing is 4-color), acid free paper, and pigment based archival inks.

Meet Noora Qasim

Education Support Specialist

School of Humanities & Social Science

Your co-workers say you have a special heart for helping Reynolds students, and that you are persistent and tenacious. Were you always so determine and caring? 
I have done many volunteer jobs in hospitals and refugee shelters in Iraq. Since then, I have always had a strong desire to help others. Engaging myself in such activities taught me valuable skills that do not appear in job descriptions, such as patience, caring, effective listening, and being mindful of others’ stress. Knowing that my work has a huge impact on others is what motivates and makes me enthusiastic about my responsibilities. When I started working in the ESL department at Reynolds, I recognized the importance of bringing these qualities to this position. 

Tell us about your job here at Reynolds.
My top priority is showing students honest willingness to have them as students at Reynolds. 

I am determined to look for ways to help ESL students, boost their self-esteem, and encourage them to constantly seek help or advice, and guide them through the college regulations without overwhelming them.
What is your favorite thing about your job? 
Having the opportunity to help students find their way to finish this program successfully. Meeting and getting to know students from diverse cultural backgrounds. Enjoying the challenges I face during the process of helping the students.

What do you find most challenging? 
Most of the ESL students need to develop a new language in order to accomplish their challenging goals to start a new life in the United States. This actually makes me take the responsibility to make this transition as attainable as possible so that they do not lack motivation or become discouraged to finish. 

The language barrier makes ESL students dependent on the ESL department to get started in college, such as applying, following through on their admissions’ requirements, scheduling placement testing, enrolling in classes, and completing their financial aid applications. It is essential to be patient all the time because it takes a while for new ESL students to adapt to the college setting.

What is your favorite thing to do in Richmond? 
I am pursuing a double major, business administration (to transfer to VCU to major in Financial Technology) and Accounting (with intent to take the CPA Exam). I am also taking online courses in computer programming so, studying is my main concern. In my free time, I go to the gym. I enjoy cooking. I also love going to art galleries and creating stories about the art pieces, especially modern art. I love instrumental music concerts.

If you won millions of dollars in a jackpot lottery what would you do with the money?
Buy a house. Help my family and friends, have one million dollar grants for students who have no family support, start my own business, and start up an organization dedicated to helping underprivileged children.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student

Mary Ammons

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I’ve always been interested in cooking, and working the last few years in the industry made me want to expand my knowledge and prospects for future employers and, ultimately, investors.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
I’m in the second year of an apprenticeship program, meaning I’m almost halfway done.  

What are you working on now in class?
I’m taking a baking class with Chef Johnathan Highmore.

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
My favorite part of class is pulling out and tasting the product and knowing it came out right, then figuring out how to make it better.

What is your favorite ingredient?
I like to continuously learn by using new techniques and ingredients; I don’t have one specific favorite ingredient, but I do enjoy working with indigenous fruits and vegetables and game meats.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
My friends would say my 3-Cheese Lobster Mac 'n Cheese.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
Continue to work in different areas of the field, such as on farms as a cook or for non-profits, and to learn as much as possible about food from the very beginning of the seed until it’s either eaten or disposed of so I can go on to create my own business or organization that strives to use incredible ingredients ethically and responsibly and teach others how to do the same.

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
 I’m torn between Acacia and Kuba Kuba.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
What several chefs that I’ve worked with and learned from over the last few years have told me is that you get out what you put into it. Basically, find something in everything you do that interests you.

Meet Reynolds Culinary Arts Student

Willoughby Harrington

What motivated you to study culinary arts?
I have always loved working with my hands. Cooking for me is a form of meditation.

Where are you in your culinary studies?
Once I am finished with my current internship, then I will be finished with an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts.

What are you working on now?
I am working at the Inn at Little Washington. When I finish with my internship at the Inn at Little Washington, I will be finished with all of my Culinary Arts classes. 

What is your favorite task as a culinary student?
I have always appreciated practicing knife cuts.

What is your favorite ingredient?
Pork Belly. Pork Belly is very versatile. A lot of cuisines have found different ways to use it, including, bacon, salt pork, pancetta, etc. It can be grilled, fried, sautéed, cured, and smoked.

Do you have a “signature dish”?
Coffee Rub Pulled Pork Butt.

What would you most like to do in culinary arts when you graduate?
I would like to travel across Asia and cook for some of their best restaurants, like Gaggan or Nahm, both located in Bangkok, Thailand.

What is your favorite restaurant in Richmond?
I have a soft spot for Shagbark. The cadre of chefs that have worked there over the years taught me everything that I currently know about working as a line cook. Also, the food, presentation, and plate execution are phenomenal.

What would you tell other potential students interested in studying culinary arts at Reynolds?
Leave your ego at the door. Don’t take anything personally. Be patient. Build relationships with your peers. Do stamina/cardio workouts in your free time; you’ll be on your feet a lot. Also, laugh, or else cooking will seem like a chore.