Scholarship Winner: Ann Jessee!

Last summer I launched a small scholarship contest here on Macheesmo called The Cook Something scholarship! The goal was just to give back a tiny bit to a community I love and also take a small amount off stress off of someone’s tuition bill.

I ended up getting over 100 essays from kids (and adults) all over the country! Some were hilarious and some were sad. Mostly it was crazy to see the ways that cooking and food can connect people. It made me really excited to cook more and feed people I love good food.

It was very hard to choose a winner, but I ended up choosing ANN JESSEE, a student at South Seattle College. She will be awarded a $500 scholarship to go toward her studies!

Here’s a quick interview with her as well!

Hi Ann! Can you talk a little bit about your background and what you’re studying at school?

Hi Macheesmo crowd! My friends call me Annie and I’m from the Pacific Northwest. Bremerton, Washington to be exact. For those of you who have not been to or heard of Bremerton, it’s just about an hour west of Seattle. I was born and raised here in Bremerton, recently graduated from a local high school, and now attend the Culinary Arts Program at South Seattle Community College.

At South, we focus on the classic techniques, while learning a broad range of dishes and ingredients from other global cuisines! The program is five quarters, and a sixth if you would like to earn two different certificates! I found about South during an educational summer program at the Seattle Art Institute. The next week I took a tour of facilities and just fell in love with the small little campus at South!

What made you want to study the culinary arts?

I’d have to say that my childhood and teenage years really had an impact on my love for culinary arts. Just about every year my dad would throw an exquisite dinner party for my grandmother. Fancy plating, printed menus and interesting ingredients. He’d usually pick a worldly cuisine that my cousins and I had not been introduced to yet.

One year we had snails, the next, a christmas dinner, one year we sat criss cross apple sauce on the pillows surrounding many different curry dishes!

At my mother’s house I recall and still indulge in the occasional belly stuffing Alfredo night. Since I can remember, my mother had stood by the pot of pure gold, with me in the back, sourdough in hand ready for the moment she said okay. I couldn’t wait to dip the bread into the most delicious of sauces. And don’t get me started on the fettuccine leftovers, there was something about how it cooled and reheated just being extremely delightful, if not better than the first day.

Growing up in two houses, both with extremely different food tastes, made me excited about food.

What’s a dish that means a lot to you? (This is an excerpt from Ann’s Essay that she submitted)

Growing up, my mom worked nights and slept most days. Food was nothing special at our home. There were not many family sit downs, family nights or homemade meals. I remember going to all the fast food joints: happy meals and burger king toys.

However, occasionally when we were all together- no work, no school- my mom would pull out this large pot, pour in about two cartons of cream and a couple of butter sticks. It would sit on the stove for a while and my mother would keep a close eye on it.

On these Alfredo nights, my mother would always buy a loaf of sourdough. Once her sauce was finished she would invite me into the kitchen. I was given a piece of bread to dip in the sauce with mom. I remember pulling a chair over to the counter, standing up there and continuously dipping our bread into the pot. The cheesy sauce was so amazing, you never could get enough, before she pushed the chair away.

What’s your favorite thing to make after a long day?

Once my day at school is finished, I really enjoy coming home, turning on a show and relaxing. Permitting we have the ingredients,  I love to make the most simple snack: A cinnamon sugar tortilla! Rolled up with a little butter! Yes, it may sound odd,  but I’ve been doing it since I can remember!!

What’s your favorite cuisine to cook?

My favorite cuisine to cook and learn about is Indian food. I’d have to say this stems from the one christmas we sat on the floor and ate with our hands. (No utensils!) India is an extremely interesting place and  I hope that some day I’ll be able travel there! I love the amount of spices and herbs, curries and meats the culture has to offer. My favorite dish currently to make is Chicken tikka masala. I found a love for it at The Curry, a local Indian food restaurant.

Ann doing the dishes!

What’s a change you would like to see in American food culture?

Today, in American food culture, we are not really taught to appreciate our food.  Over time, the food industry has drastically changed. Huge companies monopolize American food culture, and no longer do we have any real connection to our food.

I recently was gifted a book called Maman’s Homesick Pie. I haven’t even finished it yet, but would highly recommend it to anyone. There is no better example of food memories and how extremely important food can be to our history, our lives and culture.

I’m not sure what the culinary field has planned for me, but I would really like to try and bring food to all people. I would like to see the American culture change. In that, someday, people will understand, again, where and how we get our meat, vegetables and fruits!

What’s your favorite cooking show?

Sometimes I’d be staying with my grandparents, they would always record the TLC baking shows,  Cake Boss and Cupcake wars. Just the freedom, skill and imagination those chefs had was so wonderful! As I got a little older,  I started watching shows on my own… discovering Anthony Bourdain and his trips all over the world made me even more excited.

Food truly is essential to life, and I was beginning to discover and understand the beauty of worldly cuisine and the millions of food cultures. Parts Unknown and The Layover made me excited to cook, the amount of knowledge Bourdain has and the fact that he continues to keep learning has pushed me to do the same. I’m always wanting to know more about this spice or technique.

Congrats Ann! I hope you studies go well this semester! Don’t spend all that dough on donuts!

And guess what! The Cook Something Scholarship will open up for new applications again soon! Stay tuned for that announcement!

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