Stories / Scholarships

Taste America Scholar: Leigh Hamp, Illinois

JBF Editors

September 12, 2016


When Leigh Hamp’s not innovating new products and services to make cooking healthier and more accessible, she’s using her 2015 Taste America scholarship to attend culinary school classes. Hamp will lend her keen eye and newly honed skills in the kitchen to our upcoming Taste America event in Chicago on October 14.

Tickets are on sale now: visit for more information.


JBF: What does it mean to you to be a JBF TA scholarship recipient?

Leigh Hamp: It is such an honor to be a James Beard Foundation Taste America scholarship recipient. The James Beard Foundation is such a prestigious authority in the food world, and I feel humbled to become a part of the scholarship organization. The scholarship has allowed me to pursue formal culinary training, an opportunity that otherwise would have been out of reach. I am so grateful to have been given the chance to pursue my passion with the help of the James Beard Foundation.

JBF: Describe your ideal culinary career. Where do you see yourself in ten years?

LH: My two great passions are cooking and design. I have a master's degree in product design and am currently working at a cookware company in experience and service design. As I grow in my career, I want to continue to design products and services that make cooking more healthy and accessible for all. While I don't know quite where I'll be in ten years, I will say that my dream office is a hybrid test kitchen/collaborative meeting space.  

JBF: What is something you love to cook for your friends and family?

LH: One of my favorite things to make for others is chocolate babka. My favorite recipe makes two loaves, so naturally I always make one for myself and one for my friends and family!

JBF: What are the top five things you've learned in culinary school?

LH: I have been taking classes at Kendall College in Chicago and have learned so much during my time there. It's difficult to narrow down my top lessons, but here are a few that have been integral to my kitchen: the value and efficiency of mise en place; the techniques for preparing fish and seafood in several different ways; new techniques to add to my pasta-making repertoire; expanding the spices and seasonings that I have not tried; and how to get the perfect grill marks on meat. 


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