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Taste America Scholar: Morgan Knight, South Carolina

JBF Editors

September 16, 2016

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We caught up with Morgan Knight, winner of a 2015 Taste America scholarship, as she had just finished up her culinary degree and was looking forward to starting a new program in business administration. Knight will bring her knowledge and knife skills to our upcoming Taste America event in Charleston on November 4.

Tickets are on sale now: visit jbftasteamerica.org for more information.

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

Morgan Knight: Being granted a Taste America Scholarship has been such a privilege! Not only is the scholarship money greatly appreciated and helps ease the load of paying for school, but the connections I have made through the James Beard Foundation network are invaluable, and have already made an impact on my life and career. I am so grateful to have been granted scholarships through James Beard and cannot wait to continue on with my culinary career!

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

MK: This past spring I graduated from Bob Jones University with my culinary degree, and am following that up with a bachelor’s degree in business administration. I would love to eventually own my own high-end restaurant. However, before that, I intend to work at various restaurants, gleaning knowledge from chefs like as Curtis Duffy, Grant Achatz, and Heston Blumenthal. 

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

MK: My family loves to eat a random assortment of foods, but I think tacos are one meal that we honestly never get sick of! Now when I say tacos, I don’t mean refried beans and ground beef. I mean carne asada, homemade corn tortillas, and pico de gallo, made from tomatoes picked in our backyard. In general, we eat a lot of Hispanic food, but street-style tacos are our comfort food.

JBF: What are some of the most important things you've learned in culinary school?

MK: I think some of the most valuable things I learned in culinary school weren’t always the things my chefs intended to teach. For example, the importance of communication in all forms—whether it be eye contact, a full conversation, or shouting “behind!” as you walk behind someone with a hot pot, good communication makes working in a kitchen a million times easier! Along with that, talk to people—network and get to know the people around you. You never know when they might be able to help you get a job or help you out of a tricky situation. There is some truth to the saying, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!’ Another big thing that my chefs emphasized was to work tight. In a real kitchen, you aren’t going to have your own eight-foot table. If you are lucky, you’ll have two feet of space. Shoes are another big thing. Break the bank and get some really nice, comfortable shoes—your back and knees will thank you later! As well, get knives that fit. It sounds weird, but different knives feel differently depending on weight or handle shape. Be picky. Your knives go everywhere with you, and you will use them almost every day. Just because someone lives and dies by a certain knife, doesn’t mean you will. Take an afternoon and go “try on” knives and see what you like. 

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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.