Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Kim Cain – Scholarship Manager

Reynolds Office of Institutional Advancement

Where did you grow up and what was it like?
I grew up in a small town in Florida where we didn’t have to lock doors or worry about playing outside.

How long have you worked for Reynolds and what positions have you held?
I have been at Reynolds for 18 years. I have worked in Financial Operations my entire time until I was  was hired as the Scholarship Manager on January 10 of this year.

Please tell us about your new role as Scholarship Manager? 
I’m still learning about it.

What do you look forward to doing most in your new position?
Being able to work closely with students and helping them to be able to afford college without going into debt.

The Scholarship Bowl is coming up in February. Please tell us more about this event and how faculty and staff can support it.
This will be our 16th Scholarship Bowl. We are looking forward to seeing more teams this year. We are asking that everyone bring an item for the Food Pantry. We will not only help a student with their tuition, fees and books, but we will also help many students that need a little food to get them through the day.

What is your favorite activity outside of your work at Reynolds?
I like to play Pokémon with my son. It gets me out into different parks to walk and spend quality family time.

What do like most about Richmond?
The change in seasons. Growing up in Florida you didn’t get to see leaves change and snow. Yes, I said it, I like the snow. Not only for the days off, but it is so pretty.

If you won $100 Million in the Mega Millions lottery what would you do with the money?
I would pay off my bills and my son’s bills. Then I’d retire and travel. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

A Positive Spirit Simmers in The Kitchens at Reynolds

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Chef Miller,

I hope all is well with you, Chef. In the past few years since talking with you, I've established myself fairly well in the Roanoke area.  I'm currently, the Executive Chef at Billy's (

 I try to continuously learn something new every day, but the techniques and fundamentals that I was taught at Reynolds have proven extremely valuable.  I do always love to show up the "know it all" line cooks, with the French name of what they are trying to impress everybody with.  I've won two local competitions and one regional chef competition, been on the news more than ten times, and most recently I was offered a new position as overseer/consultant for seven establishments. 

I consider you, and the education I received at Reynolds, a massive contributing factor to my success.  I greatly appreciate what I've learned from you, and wanted to reach out to sincerely thank you for the knowledge.  I hope you have a good holiday season.

Dave Hirshman
AAS Culinary Arts, Spring 2016

Students past and present will quickly tell you the Reynolds Culinary Arts Program is something special. That alums like Dave Hirshman write to say “Thank you” is a testament to the lasting positive spirit that starts simmering in the Reynolds kitchen during their studies. Years later students recall lessons they learned, their cooking successes and tragedies, and they never fail to remark on how incredibly prepared they were to face the rigors of their culinary careers.

Dave Hirshman left his home in Newport News to study business at Virginia Commonwealth University. After earning an undergraduate degree in business management and spending a few years in the corporate workforce he said, “I went back to the kitchens.” He liked the work, he liked the atmosphere, and after researching his culinary education options, he chose Reynolds.

After graduation, romance took Dave to Roanoke, Virginia where he immediately took a position as a line cook and sous chef. Six months later he was notified by text message that the restaurant he was working in had closed. Finding restaurant work again was easy, but it wasn’t until Billy’s – the number one restaurant in Roanoke – that he found the right restaurant. Two years later, Dave is both Executive Chef at Billy’s and has been offered a position as a consultant for seven of the other restaurants in the Billy’s group.

Chef and consultant are only part of Dave’s work. Dave has become the “face” of Billy’s. He has appeared on television more than ten times to demonstrate everything from simple food preparation to a segment on what to do with Thanksgiving leftovers. He has gone spatula to spatula with some terrific chefs and has won local and regional cooking competitions. “I learned how to keep my cool at Reynolds,” says Dave, “Chef Jesse taught us to focus on what we are doing, focus on the food, and it takes off the stress. Whatever else is going on, stay focused on the food and we’ll be okay. Chef has so much life experience to share with students. If you listen, you take away so much more than just the textbook and preparation. He can tell you how to run things.”

Dave’s days are long, but he says Reynolds prepared him for that too. “Chef Jesse’s work ethic is incredible. To watch someone work that hard, and work all those hours, is truly motivating.” Dave puts in his hours too, beginning at 9:00 a.m. with preparation for lunch service that runs until about 3:00 p.m. He then sits down to administrative duties until 5:00 p.m. and afterwards heads back to the dining room to observe the servers and take notes he will share later. Between 8 and 9 p.m. is “Table Touch” where Dave meets and greets diners and asks about their experience at Billy’s.

“Anyone can work in a kitchen,” Dave says, “but without education, staff lack the root of understanding. The Reynolds Culinary program breaks down the how and what of the work so students get a complete understanding of the business. Graduates can go anywhere, in any restaurant, and immediately feel comfortable and confident with their skills.”

“My favorite part of the program was the capstone class at the end. We were given the liberty to design the entire menu, do all the costing, ordering, and planning, just as it is done in the industry.” Dave admits a couple of his courses were “tragic” at the beginning, but with Chef’s help, they were much improved the second time around, and he learned a lot from the trial and error it took to get it right.

And the best part of a career in culinary arts? “Being a chef allows you to use your artistic expression and creativity. The industry has changed so much in the past 20 years. It has gained respect and is revered now as a career. I see customers from all over the world – CEOs, COOs, all kinds of important people – and they show their respect. It’s personally satisfying that they ask questions and listen to what I have to say.”

From Dave’s experience it’s clear it takes more than a sharp set of knives to be successful in the culinary field. Just as important are: staying cool under pressure, the ability to manage people and food, and excellent communication skills. “Don’t think you know it all either,” says Dave, “Learn something new every day. And, most important, don’t let your ego get ahead of you.” 

Sounds like wisdom straight out of Chef Jesse’s playbook.

A note about Billy’s:
Billy’s was voted the number one restaurant in Roanoke and gets a rating of 4.5 on review sites such as Trip Advisor and Open Table. The restaurant got a makeover in 2009 and has been a popular dining destination ever since. The cuisine is American with a distinctly artistic twist, no doubt the handiwork of Dave Hirshman.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Simply Surreal

Reynolds Culinary Student Offered Position
at Top Washington, DC Restaurant

Willoughby Harrington is a man of few words, but a chef-to-be with an abundance of skills. After completing the classroom portion of his culinary education at Reynolds in August 2018, he began an internship with The Inn at Little Washington. A month before his time was up, The Inn offered him a full time position.

But, Willoughby is certainly no ordinary person. And, The Inn at Little Washington is certainly no ordinary restaurant. The two are a perfect match.

To understand why this match is perfect, first consider Willoughby. “Willoughby is exceptional,” says Reynolds Adjunct Faculty Kathleen Cossaboon. So exceptional, Cossaboon asked a friend to make the introductions that landed Willoughby his internship. “He has an acute sense of food, thinks out of the box and is passionate about his craft. He is also humble [painfully so when asked to talk about his achievements!] and is excited to learn new things.  On top of being a committed student he carries himself professionally and has already established his personal brand for the hospitality industry.”

Now, consider The Inn at Little Washington. The Inn’s kitchen has been touted by Washington food critics as “the most beautiful kitchen in the world.” Willoughby says, “The kitchen is like a museum. One person polishes the kitchen’s copper and brass – hoods, ovens, everything - five nights a week when dinner service concludes at midnight.” The “polisher” finishes in time for the first crew to begin at 5 a.m. The 2019 Michelin Guide awarded The Inn at Little Washington its highest accolade of three stars. The coveted third Michelin star makes Patrick O’Connell and The Inn the first and only restaurant in the Washington D.C. region to receive the honor. The Inn’s list of accolades is long and prestigious. It is listed among the top restaurants in the world.

The Reynolds Culinary Arts program has a special way of connecting its students with the places they dream of going. The matches between student and restaurant, like this one between Willoughby and The Inn, seem perfect, almost destine in the stars. During his studies at Reynolds Willoughby discovered The Inn at Little Washington, and its founder and owner Patrick O’Connell. “Patrick O’Connell has been one of my idols for some time now,” said Willoughby, “The Inn was the focus of one of my projects. I recreated one of their recipes.” And now he has met and works with O’Connell. “He is a warm, wonderful, kind person,” Willoughby says, “and a great, great chef. He shakes everyone’s hand at the start of a shift.” The significance of this simple gesture isn’t lost on Willoughby.

Television food shows have fostered the impression that commercial kitchens – particularly those of the most distinctive restaurants – are hectic nightmares with chefs running about yelling, oven fires, and last minute pushes to add garnish to a dish as it heads to the dining room. Not so at The Inn at Little Washington. “The kitchen is incredibly well organized and is run with amazing precision and efficiency,” says Willoughby, “food is sampled several times to assure quality throughout the service time. Chaos here is anything less than perfect.”

While Chef O’Connell considers The Inn at Little Washington, “. . . just a hideaway in the country owned by someone who likes to entertain a lot,” his standards for excellence are sky high and the vetting process for staff members is no spring walk in a Virginia meadow. “My internship “interview” lasted 12 hours,” Willoughby explained, “it involved working two shifts, prepping for lunch and for dinner service, but everyone was so kind, they fed me constantly, every two hours I got to try something.” While perfection is the number one priority, the Dalmatian print chef pants worn by all are a clear indication that the work of The Inn also has its light side.

The Inn being approximately 70 miles from DC, commuting wasn’t an option, so when offered the internship, Willoughby moved to Washington, Virginia. O’Connell being O’Connell, understands student interns have limited resources and has made housing available to them in a property called The Piedmont House.  Not only is he the consummate host to his dining guests, but O’Connell being self-made, and starting his restaurant with a wood burning cook stove and a frying pan, humbly appreciates what it means to start with nothing.

In addition to giving him his introduction to The Inn at Little Washington, Willoughby says, “The most valuable thing I learned at Reynolds was team building. It is so important. When you understand how to work on a team, it all comes together.”

And come together it has for Willoughby. As he finishes his internship he’s debating his next steps. The Inn has a line cook position for him if he wants it, but he says, “I have a lot of options after this.” Right now he is still taking it all in. “This has been a simply great opportunity, a real eye-opener. I have met some of my culinary heroes here. The whole thing has been a surreal experience. Simply surreal.”
Finding yourself in the place of your dreams has that quality. Simply surreal.

Willoughby Harrington will graduate from the Reynolds Culinary Arts program in May of 2019.