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Taste America Scholar: Olivia Bradley, California

JBF Editors

September 06, 2016

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When we caught up with Olivia Bradley, she was about to jet off to Paris, where she’ll spend a semester studying French cuisine and wine. Bradley is a 2015 Taste America Scholarship recipient from California, where we’ll be returning for a 2016 tour stop in Los Angeles on September 23.

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

Olivia Bradley: Being chosen as a recipient is a monumental honor! It has helped me pay tuition, of course, but it has also been a signifier that my efforts, choices, and sacrifices leading up to this point were all worth it. I know the James Beard Foundation will afford me a network of professional connections that I would not be able to access otherwise, which will be a huge help in the future. I am very grateful for the scholarship and the opportunities.

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

OB: My ideal career would involve traveling in the beginning, in order to expand my culinary knowledge and skills and to give my cooking a worldly feel. I hope to open a restaurant that focuses on food that feels like home, but with a twist—comfort food from around the globe. I'd love to open my restaurant in California where my culinary education truly began, as it would be exciting to open an establishment with the homey feel I am aiming for in my second home state.

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

OB: I love to make coq au vin for friends and family because it's such an easily shared dish that provides a hearty and filling meal for everyone, but there's also the ability to elevate it and make it special. French cooking has always called to me, and it's one of my favorite culinary paths to explore.

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

OB: I've learned so much that it's hard to choose just five things! The most important lessons to me have been how to stay organized, even under pressure; that building an excellent base of culinary knowledge is the best stepping stone to all good food; that going back to basics can be a freeing experience, and not everything has to be complicated to be good; that a positive attitude can be your best secret weapon; and that mistakes happen, but you can't let them define you or your cooking.

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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.