Culinary Success Stories

Taylor Sellers

Taylor Sellers

When I was in high school, I became interested in exploring the culinary field. During high school, I attended the JSCC-CHI Summer Academy in 2016 and 2017, became a part of the CHI’s Culinary Explorers during my senior year, and competed in the high school ProStart competition hosted by Jeff State. My passion for the culinary arts grew as I learned and developed the skills for cooking, and I was grateful and honored to receive several scholarships through Jeff State to pursue my culinary arts degree. In 2018, I was selected to be Jeff State’s SkillsUSA representative in the culinary arts Competition. In 2019, I won the Alabama SkillsUSA competition and placed 9th at the national SkillsUSA competition. Through this opportunity, I was awarded a scholarship to continue my education at Jeff State and worked towards a second degree in hotel and restaurant management. I graduated in 2020 with my Associate in Applied Science Degree in Food Service Culinary Management and in 2021 with my Associate in Applied Science Degree in Hotel/Restaurant Management.

Brian Duffet – SkillsUSA National Culinary Champion


Jordan Golden Baking Pastry.

Jordan Golden – Baking & Pastry

Owner –  Jordy Pordy Pudding Pies

Entering the Culinary and Hospitality world right after high school was a new experience. I was unaware of the dedication that was required. The instructors at Jefferson State Community College prepared me by teaching the fundamentals of cooking, baking, hotel management, and restaurant management. It was much more than “just culinary school.” You’re taught how to interact with guests in a professional manner, and making the guest feel genuinely cared for. The classes will give you the proper knowledge of techniques required for any kitchen. You even learn how to develop marketing plans and contracts for your own bakery. Since entering the program, I have obtained positions such as: Head Pastry Chef, Lead Baker, and now Owner. My cottage bakery offers cupcakes, cookies, and bonbons- all items I can prepare with excellent technique using the skills learned from JSCC courses. I recommend these courses to everyone I meet. Facebook and Instagram: @jordypordypuddingpies


Kelsie Vansant

Kelsie Vansant – Baking & Pastry

The Everglades Club – Pastry Cook

Jefferson state truly gave me my start in my pastry career. I would not have been capable of attending college if it weren’t for a scholarship program offered by the college for high school students, where I received a full ride. I can honestly say that that opportunity for me was life changing. The chefs gave me an amazing foundation to begin my pastry career. The Chefs taught me all of the basic necessities that I still use every day. I learned the significance of sanitation, the importance of food cost and purchasing, but most importantly, I learned my love of chocolate. All of the chefs at Jefferson State are very approachable and will go above and beyond to help you with your career and push you to succeed both inside and outside of the classroom. My education from Jeff. State has now allowed me to work my dream job at the beach under a CMPC and WCMPC, and I would not have had this opportunity if it had not been for the amazing chefs at Jefferson State Community College, thank you to all of the chefs who made it possible for me and countless others.


Natesai (Sai) Sukkamol – Food Service/Culinary Management

Sunny Sai Up! – Catering and healthy meal prep

Jefferson State Culinary Institute fully prepared me to enter the culinary industry. Due to the program’s focus on several different skills, while providing extensive hands-on opportunities, has allowed me to work creatively with the food and my talents. Everything that they taught has benefited me and helped me lead a successful career in the culinary arts. I would love to give thanks to each of the Chefs and instructors who helped and supported me to go through this program. Instagram @sunny.sai.up

Crystal Rogers

Sous chef Crystal Rogers prepares an order of Shrimp & Grits.

Crystal Rogers – Culinary Apprentice

Renaissance Rossbridge – Executive Sous Chef

Jefferson State Culinary Institute helped prepare me for my career by teaching me the culinary foundations, such as safe food handling, the basics of restaurant operations, cost control management and much more. Being a culinary student at Jefferson State I was exposed to several esteemed chefs and the American Culinary Federation program.

With the knowledge and skills taught at Jefferson State Culinary Institute, I was able to do my apprenticeship at Renaissance Rossbridge Resort and Spa where I have been able to use my training and work experience to move from a supervisor, to a Sous Chef, and now the Executive Sous Chef. I thank all of the Chef’s at Jeff State who have impacted my life.


Virginia (Ginny) Jett – Hospitality Management/Baking & Pastry

Jefcoed – Pinson Valley High School Culinary Arts Teacher

The education and experience I received through Jefferson State Culinary Institute have been invaluable throughout my career. I spent about 12 years in the Hospitality industry before landing the instructor role, the lessons in techniques and timeliness are a huge part of my success in various kitchens. To this day I use examples in my classroom that were used when learning concepts in class. It makes my heart very happy to have one of my students now attending Jefferson State Culinary Institute, I know he will have the best experience and learn everything he needs to know to prepare him for a great career.

Amy Turnbow

Amy Turnbow – Food Service/Culinary Management

Dawson Memorial Baptist Church – Director of Food Service & Events

My time at Jefferson State Culinary Institute began some of my fondest memories and was the basis for some of my best culinary accomplishments. I learned not only the correct preparation of food but the ART of Cooking. When I left Jeff State, I had the knowledge and skills to run a food organization from all aspects, not just in the kitchen.

During my course work, I was offered and accepted the position of Food Service Director at Dawson Memorial Baptist Church in Homewood. Over the past 17 years, Events Director has been added to my title and role. I have utilized my learned skill set to teach cooking classes, train college interns to work and appreciate the different aspects of food service and to manage a food service ministry that feeds people both physically and spiritually.

Relationships matter. Especially in the Hospitality Industry where the faces around you are constantly changing. You talk about time in culinary school and soon realize that each of you know the same people, for different reasons and all are part of the world of food and events. And many times that starts at Jefferson State. I am grateful to the Team of Chefs at Jefferson State who I am pleased to call not only mentors but friends and colleagues. My Jefferson State success story began almost two decades ago and that same story is still being written.

Bailey Howard

Bailey Howard – Baking & Pastry

The Valley Hotel – Pastry Chef

I Bailey Madison Howard was born May 6, 1996 & grew up in Pell City, Alabama. I grew up baking with my Nana, Grammey, & mom, that’s when I got my love for baking. I graduated in 2015 from Pell City High School & started Jefferson State Community College (Shelby) that fall. The next three years Jefferson State prepared me for my career. I learned many skills through experiences with all of my chefs teaching me everything they know. My classes included savory classes with Chef Jackson, baking & pastry classes with Chef Mitchell & Chef Rinsky, Bistro classes with Chef Bierley, food cost & purchasing from Chef Moore, & Chef Missie helping out with anything we needed & someone to talk to. While in school I worked as a pastry assistant at Highlands Bar & Grill in Birmingham. I loved from there to Bottega to do an internship under the award winning Chef Dolester Miles. I graduated from Jefferson Stare in May of 2018. I started as a pastry assistant at Satterfield’s in Cahaba Heights the next week. I learned more skills from my Pastry Chef Brittany Garrigus-Cheatham who is also a Jefferson State graduate. In January of 2020 I became the head Pastry Chef at Soho Standard in Homewood, Alabama. I moved from there to Maple Street Biscuit Company. Where I became a Team Lead in only two months of working there. I learned the line & know all the stations. I got a better opportunity a couple of months later & now I am the head Pastry Chef at Ironwood, inside The Valley Hotel by Hilton in Homewood, Alabama. The challenge of getting my degree was not easy, but it was definitely worth it. I would like to thank all my chefs for what they taught me in the classrooms & labs & my family for always helping me push towards my dreams. I would also like to thank my boyfriend Cary for always being there & helping me with my career. Now moving forward with my career & life I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Chad Posey

Chad Posey – Culinary Apprentice/Hospitality Management/Baking & Pastry

Happy Catering – Executive Chef

It helped me develop the fundamentals of organization and setting a solid foundation for my future in this industry.

Brandin Blakely

Brandin Blakely – Food Service/Culinary Management

Divine House Of Soul – CEO

Every single culinary instructor played their own part with outstanding teamwork which is what makes Jefferson State Community College culinary program successful. I was given all the tools that I needed to go out and be great. And that goes for at school and away from school. Each instructor is special in their own unique way. I learned something different from each and every one of them. When I first got there I immediately started a Private Chef & Catering Service. The funny thing about it is that I started that business while I was still in a drug and alcohol rehab. I had support from culinary instructors the whole time I was there. I even had the opportunity to cater the winter formal in 2020. If anyone is thinking about starting their own business you should most definitely work with Chef Moore & Chef Bierley. They are two of the funniest people I ever worked with and they are very caring with the students. If you’re a pastry and bakery person then Chef Missie & Chef Rinsky is who you need to see. I learned a lot about flavor profiling, safety cooking for cautions along with a lot about meat & how to smoke them from Chef Jackson. There was a time that I thought all healthy food was nasty but thanks to Chef Mitchell all that changed. I am very grateful for each and every one of these instructors and all of their help.

Jennifer Conn

Jennifer Conn – Food Service/Culinary Management

Food Integrated Training, Inc. – Owner

Jefferson State Culinary Institute was instrumental in preparing me for my career in the field of culinary. My chef instructors, Chef Mitchell, Chef Rinsky, Chef Jackson & Chef Bierley were all dedicated to the my success in this program. Each within their own specialty in the program were equally invested to teach the specific curriculum but in a way that was easy to follow, understand and implement. They were all easy to approach and discuss class materials and projects with, which is a valuable skill to learn from these Chefs to take into my own personal business. The kitchens, labs & Bistro were top notch with up to date equipment and cleanliness. The Food Service/Culinary Management program was well designed to offer an in depth knowledge of confidence in the kitchen with food preparation & menu selection, vital importance of sanitation, science involved in baking, how to manage a food business successfully by understanding purchasing and cost control and offered great apprenticeship opportunities so that we could learn through on the job training what types of positions were available in the culinary world. My experience with Jefferson State Culinary Institute was outstanding and the experience provided me the skills to be a successful trusted chef, continue a thriving business during the Covid-19 pandemic, understand what it means to serve others and still love cooking at the end of the day!

Anna Hallman

Anna Hallman – Food Service/Culinary Management

Hewitt-Trussville High School – Culinary Academy Instructor

Jeff State fully prepared me for a career as a chef. I spent 10 years as a sous chef at Kathy G Catering Company after graduation. Hewitt-Trussville High School hired me 7 years ago as their Culinary Academy Instructor. They were specifically seeking a graduate of the Jeff State program to teach the culinary academy. My excellent instructors at Jeff State modeled the same kind of teaching/experiences I attempt to give my students each day at the high school level.

Josie Boyd 1

Josie Boyd – Baking & Pastry

Ashley Mac’s – General Manager

The Culinary Institute at Jefferson State really prepared me for my career by teaching me the things that matter like applicable customer service skills, food cost formulas, and kitchen techniques. Customer service is one of the main reasons I love the hospitality industry so much, but it can be difficult at times. The CHI taught me applicable tactics in the classroom and in the field for dealing with customers. The formulas and procedures that I learned in school for food cost, labor cost, and much more are used almost daily in my current job, and I try to teach them to my staff members as well. My professors really invested in me and pushed me to be better, in the kitchen and out, just like my career does every day. The challenging curriculum of my degree was not easy; however, it helped prepare me for daily requirements of the industry.

Laura Rois

Laura Rois – Baking and Pastry

Pastry Chef – Vestavia Hills Country Club

Jefferson State Culinary Institute provided me a solid foundation of baking fundamentals and time management skills to be able to successfully run a pastry department. They also provided opportunities to work and network with others in the hospitality industry.