Working with Star Chefs, Savannah Culinary Student Gets to Shine

Feb 20, 2014

Working with Star Chefs, Savannah Culinary Student Gets to Shine

In a recognized food town like Savannah, community events are a great opportunity to taste dishes from the city's many fine chefs, as well as hobnob with culinary stars like the Lee Brothers and nationally recognized chefs like James Beard Award-winning chef Elizabeth Terry.

For students at Culinard in Savannah, it's also a chance to showcase what they've learned and make important connections in the industry.

"We do a lot of events throughout the year," says Chef Amberley Rowe-Stewart, Program Director of Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College in Savannah. "We've built a rapport with the charity and business organizations here, and they call on us to participate. One of the biggest reasons is the quality of our culinary students."

One such student is Lisa Ellington, who worked the recent Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner at the inaugural Savannah Food and Wine Festival. The dinner boasted the talents of award-winning chefs including Elizabeth Terry, Steven Satterfield, Hugh Acheson, Chris Hastings and Geir Kilen.

At the time of the Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner, Ellington was serving an externship at Savannah's Andaz Hotel. Many local chefs were contributing to the meal, including Andaz's Executive Chef Lauren Teague.

"She knew I was originally going to attend the dinner," Ellington says, "but ended up asking me to participate as her assistant. I was excited because we work well together, and she guided me through the night. It's like one of those experiences you can try to describe but nothing compares to being there. It was really wonderful of her to ask me."

Having Chef Teague's guidance helped Ellington jump right in. "When we first arrived, another chef was prepping, so we stepped in and assisted him with whatever he needed."

Later, James Beard Award-winning Chef Chris Hastings gave Ellington kudos when he recognized her Culinard whites. "It was really nice to have the culinary school recognized," she says.

"This was the first time I had seen such a huge production like this, even without the star chefs around. I was the only student from Culinard who got to represent at the dinner, and I felt really honored."

Ellington worked so well with Chef Teague that she was offered a position at the Andaz Hotel.

Although she and her husband will soon be moving to Sacramento, Lisa Ellington is optimistic that her training at Culinard and the connections she has made will serve her well on another coast.

"It's been a wonderful experience," she says. "One of the best decisions I ever made was to go to culinary school."

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