Taste America Scholar: Bethanie LeBlanc, LouisianaJBF Editors
August 31, 2016
When we chatted with Bethanie LeBlanc, winner of a 2015 Taste America scholarship, she relayed that she was the envy of all her culinary school classmates, since she’ll be lending her knives and skills to our upcoming Taste America event in New Orleans on September 30.
JBF: What does it mean to you to be a JBF TA scholarship recipient?
Bethanie LeBlanc: I am so honored to be a recipient of the JBF Taste America Scholarship and absolutely thrilled to be able to participate in the New Orleans benefit dinner. James Beard has been a presence in my life since childhood, when my mother would plan her supper club menus by going to his books first. To have been selected as a scholarship recipient by such a prestigious organization is an incredible honor. The validation of all of my efforts to date not only motivates me to work harder, but also reaffirms my decision to follow my dreams. This is so much more than a financial gift!
JBF: Describe your ideal culinary career. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
BL: My ideal culinary career includes travel and the opportunity to experience other people and cultures through their food. In ten years I see myself sharing my own rich Louisiana food culture with people around the world. I have a lot of learning to do that will continue throughout my career, but I also believe that I have something to teach.
JBF: What is something you love to cook for your family and/or friends?
BL: Food is love! There is nothing I'd rather do than feed the people that feed my life. My friends like that I expose them to things they may have never tried before, so it's always fun and exciting to see what I can come up with. My go-to comfort food dishes are pork roast with rice and gravy, as well as crawfish étouffée. They always hit the mark.
JBF: What are the top five things you've learned in culinary school?
BL: I've learned the importance preparation and planning. I've learned the necessity of teams and accountability. I've learned that technique translates into the success of all dishes. I've learned that if you take care of your tools, they will take care of you. And, perhaps most importantly, I've learned that there is a lot left to learn!
The James Beard Foundation is proud to donate a portion of all JBF Taste America 2016 events to the James Beard Foundation's Taste America® Scholarship Fund. From April 1 through May 15, 2017, local culinary students are invited to apply through jamesbeard.org.