Meet the 2015 Emeril Lagasse Scholars


In 2003, Johnson & Wales University partnered with Chef Emeril J. Lagasse '78, '90 Hon. to create a unique event dedicated to making culinary education more affordable. Since then, the annual Emeril Golf Classic has become a signature university event that benefits the Emeril Lagasse Endowed Scholarship Fund.

“I have seen how much this tournament benefits the students of Johnson & Wales University as they pursue their dreams of a college education,” notes Emeril, with obvious pride. “It is the realization of my commitment to this university and the future of the hospitality industry.”

This year, 12 College of Culinary Arts students — 3 each from the university’s 4 campuses in Providence, RI; North Miami, Fla.; Denver, Colo.; and Charlotte, NC — were awarded $10,000 scholarships.

In addition, two students received a New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) scholarship to attend the campus of their choice. Meet this year’s Emeril Scholars:

Providence Campus

  • Vanessa Ali '17 (Culinary Arts and Food Service Management) and her family came to the US from Colombia, and her palate has been influenced by her mixed ethnicity. “I love spices ... the combination of Middle Eastern, Arabic and Latin flavors can bring a dish to a whole new level of taste.”
  • Joseph Cusano '16 (Culinary Arts and Food Service Management) grew up on a farm, helping to raise chickens, turkeys and pigs. “I’ve always watched my mother cook from our own resources.”
  • Emily Pascoe '17 (Culinary Nutrition) dreams of becoming a registered dietician. “I’d like to help heal clients with disorders like ADHD through proper nutrition. Why pay for expensive medications when food can heal just as well?”

North Miami Campus

  • Sarah Cardet '17 (Baking & Pastry Arts and Food Service Management) hopes one day to become a certified master baker. “Competing in the Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie would be a dream come true.”
  • Elena Lopez '17 (Culinary Arts and Food Service Management) credits her hard-working parents, immigrants from Mexico, for her work ethic. “I respect my parents who taught me to fight for what I want and never give up my dreams.”
  • Lyanette Vega Matos '17 (Culinary Arts and Food Service Management) knows that JWU was the right choice for her college career: “I have been able to travel, network, receive international experience and grow as a professional with the tools JWU has provided to me.”

Denver Campus

  • Samantha Concha '17 (Culinary Nutrition) would like to pursue a career as a clinical dietitian. JWU has broadened her perspective on her “passion to optimize wellness through food and nutritious choices.”
  • Jessica Dean '16 (Culinary Arts and Food Service Management) found both the education and the college experience she wanted at JWU. “In the long run, I’d like to follow my amazing chef instructors and teach culinary arts.”
  • Nancy Roman '16 (Culinary Arts and Culinary Nutrition) would like to have a career helping people through food. “The faculty come from the real world of cooking — their knowledge and connections are invaluable.”

Charlotte Campus

  • Choosing JWU was an easy decision for Anna Ressler '16 (Culinary Arts and Food Service Management): “If you are going to study culinary arts, you have to go to the best school, and that is JWU.”
  • Teneé Congo '16 (Culinary Arts and Food Service Management) plans to become a personal chef or an event planner. “JWU is helping me achieve my goals by giving me the opportunity to take classes that will help me gain valuable career skills.”
  • Elizabeth Myers '18 (Culinary Arts & Food Service Management) chose to come to JWU because of its reputation. “I want to learn everything I can so that I can be successful in any career I choose.”

NOCCA Scholars
JWU has been a longtime supporter of a unique 4-year high school culinary arts program for aspiring chefs, the Emeril Lagasse Foundation Culinary Arts Studio at the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, or NOCCA (“know-cah”).

NOCCA’s Culinary Arts program was developed in collaboration with the Emeril Lagasse Foundation and supported by JWU’s College of Culinary Arts, which created the first-of-its-kind curriculum for high school students.

This year’s NOCCA Scholars are:

  • Chayil Johnson '16 (Culinary Arts, Charlotte) came to JWU because of the opportunities available to graduates of its culinary program. “Both of my mentors, Chef Dana Tuohy and Chef Emeril Lagasse, attended JWU. Their guidance and professional success influenced my decision.”
  • Lauren Pedeaux '18 (Baking & Pastry Arts, Providence Campus) will be studying abroad at L’Ecole Nationale Superieure de Patisserie in Yssingeaux, France, next year. “What really attracted me to JWU was the fact that they teach the ‘art’ of pastry, not just desserts in mass quantities.”

Pictured: President Mim L. Runey, LPD, Chancellor John J. Bowen '77, Tournament Chairman Stephen J. Caldeira '07 Hon. and Chef Emeril J. Lagasse '78, '90 Hon. with the 2015 scholarship recipients. (Note that Lyanette Matos and Chayil Johnson were not able to attend.)