Top Chef Graduates Showcase Success at Chef’s Night

On March 1, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida hosted a very special Chef’s Night. The evening featured five of the Second Harvest Culinary Training Program’s top chef graduates who, along with their chef instructors, created and executed a five-course meal. Participating in this Chef’s Night was the ultimate way for these graduates to pay it forward as event proceeds will support future students seeking a sustainable career in the food industry.

Participating graduates included: Chef Theodre Riffe, Grand Bohemian Hotel Orlando; Chef Jennifer Sherman, Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin; Chef Shaneka Jimmerson, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida Meals for Good; Chef Holly Luisi, Owner of The Bohemiam Bakery; and Chef Kenny Neal, Owner of Kolaiah’s Catering.

The graduates were excited to be reunited with their chef instructors, including Chef Israel Santiago, Chef Eric Andre, Chef Jill Holland, Chef John Dizon, Chef Terah Barrios, and Chef Robert Pagan.

Inspired by all things spring, the menu featured vibrant colors and fresh greens. An assorted amuse bouche display intrigued guests in the lobby during the cocktail hour. The light bites prepared by Chef Robert and Chef Shaneka included a crab, avocado and cucumber shooter, along with beet tartare on pumpernickel toast and a compressed melon, prosciutto and blue cheese crostini.

Once inside the Community Room, guests enjoyed a smoke seafood sausage chowder created by Chef Jill and Chef Jennifer.

For the salad course, Chef John and Chef Teddy created a forest-inspired dish with an asaga blue cheese and strawberry springtime salad.

The main event featured a beef tenderloin with caramelized carrots by Chef Israel, Chef Eric and Chef Kenny.

Last, but certainly not least, the desserts by Chef Terah and Chef Holly included a trio of truffles and a classic cheesecake adorned with fresh fruit salsa and edible flowers.

Before the evening came to a close, guests met each of the top chef graduates and Chef Kenny shared his journey.

After graduating from the Culinary Training Program, Kenny worked at a local golf and country club. Since then he has established his own successful catering business.  He shared that any time he is asked, he advocates for the Culinary Training Program. “This is my way to show my gratitude, to pay it forward. This program didn’t just change my life, it changed my kids’ lives.”

To learn more about the 18-week Second Harvest Culinary Training Program and how to apply for the next class, click here.

To find out when the next Chef’s Night is announced, sign up here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.