BY SYRENA JOHNSON, NYC: Hi, my name is Syrena. You may or may not have heard of me, but I was the first recipient of the Besh/Bride Chefs Move scholarship.
If you are having mixed feelings or do not know if this is worth your time let me just reassure you, the program is everything it says it is: A once‐in‐a‐lifetime opportunity to study at one of most prestigious culinary schools in New York, the French Culinary Institute. In addition, you receive a laptop, a camera and lessons, media training for Facebook and Twitter, a chef mentor, and 100% support from the entire Besh group itself. On top of all that, you will do radio interviews and TV appearances and tons of magazine articles!
I really didn’t know about this opportunity. When it was first brought to my attention, I was attending Liberty’s Kitchen and my former program director gave me all the details and said I should apply. From then on it was a big effort trying to get me on paper because I thought someone like me would never get something like this. With the help and support of my program director and Liberty’s Kitchen, they motivated me and got me on board, which was the best thing that could have ever happened to me.
I went through the process (which is very simple) and I won! Since then I’ve worked at Restaurant August, been on two radio interviews, appeared on Fox 8 with Chef Besh and Liz Reyez, and my story will be in an soon‐to‐be‐released coffee table book and tons of magazine articles. This had all happened while I was still in New Orleans. I had not even left to go to school yet!
You don’t have to be a genius to apply. All you need is 1‐2 years of kitchen experience. I had never worked at a fine dining restaurant before I won, so you will be fine. The last and final thing I should add is to just be you: have a personality, be passionate about what you do, and be honest about who you are. Since the start, I have always said I am just a regular girl from uptown New Orleans who didn’t go to the best schools, get the best grades, or live in the best neighborhoods, but I worked hard and was passionate about what I did. I overcame what I went through and was blessed to have this opportunity come around.
I’ve been in New York about four months now and I love it! I had never been before and everything is new to me, but I love going to school and I love interacting with my classmates. Most of all, I love that I had the chance to do this in my lifetime. I hope I have opened your mind a bit to this amazing opportunity and I look forward to meeting the two lucky winners in June.