National culinary competition
Student chef finds the right recipe for a national culinary competition and for life
Posted on 03/25/2009
Cole Benefield, a junior at Model High School currently attending the Floyd County Education Center, is a finalist in a culinary contest for high school students sponsored by Johnson & Wales University called the National High School Chef of the Year Contest. Johnson and Wales is a world-renowned culinary educator well respected for training some of the finest chefs in the world. Benefield is one of ten finalists from high school students across the country to enter the contest. The winner of the recipe contest will receive a $450,000.00, four-year scholarship to Johnson and Wales University.

The recipe Benefield created is called Floribean Skirt Steak Roulade. The dish is a Caribbean style meat with a corn and avocado relish. Benefield worked for many hours perfecting his recipe and the time put in just might pay off in helping him to realize his dream of becoming a chef. He was shocked to get the news he was advancing in the competition. Benefield said, “I received a call from the University informing me that out of the thousands of recipes sent in, mine was one of the ten chosen to advance to the preliminary round. Needless to say, I was shocked and excited at the same time.” 

Cole Benefield was much like any other high school kid as he entered this junior year thinking he had everything figured out. He was to attend class at Model High in the morning and then participate in an internship program working at Barnsley Gardens Resort and Inn in the afternoon. There he would pursue his dream of becoming a chef working as an apprentice under Executive Chef Charles Vosburgh. Then, like many teenagers, he made a mistake that would alter his plans and shake his dreams. Because of the mistake, he was assigned to attend the Floyd County Education Center and his opportunity to work with Chef Vosburgh was in question. “I was extremely lucky because the one person who could have shut the door on my future of becoming a chef saw past my bad choice and let me continue my apprenticeship,” Benefield said, “Miss Melissa Pyle believed in my dreams and goals and let me continue in the program.”

Benefield also praises the teachers and staff at Floyd County Education Center for helping him to get his life back on track. “Dr. Melinda Strickland and Dr. Dale Hamby lead a remarkable faculty that is 110% devoted to the students,” he said. “They believe in us, take time to work with us, give us a chance to fix our mistakes and move on with our lives. I owe all my respect and my progression from five months ago, not only to myself, but also to these educators who stood and remain standing beside me and the other students who have fallen into a hole we dug for ourselves.”

“Dr. Amy Allee, Dr. Harvey Palmer, Mrs. Sarah Maddox, Ms. Melissa Martin, Mrs. Ann Talley, Mrs. Clarissa Womack, Mrs. Jennifer Massey, Mrs. Kim Baker, Mr. Robert Boice, Mr. John Bryant, Coach Roger Dewey, Mr. Jeff Bennett and Mrs. Faye Dawson are the most effective people in the students’ lives at FCEC. Their belief in us is so strong and the cool thing is, they are not afraid to admit they care about us to the community,” Benefield added. “Just five months ago, it seemed as if my life had completely fallen apart. Now I am making something positive of myself.”