Alumni Profile – Caroline Cheatwood
Former nurse takes a chance on a second career in the culinary industry
For Caroline Cheatwood, a career in the medical industry just wasn’t in the cards. The Southlake native had attended the TCU-Harris College of Nursing but left the profession to pursue her passion for cooking. She hasn’t looked back since.
“I was not happy as a nurse and decided to do what I love every single day,” says Cheatwood, a 2022 Culinary School of Fort Worth graduate who now cooks for Café Modern inside the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. “As I grew older, I cooked to de-stress and fell in love with the science behind cooking. But I knew going into the industry without a foundation of knowledge would be difficult. I knew the Culinary School of Fort Worth would give me a good education.”
According to a 2021 survey by Harris Poll, a global market research firm, half of working Americans desire to make a career change. The COVID-19 pandemic only contributed to that number as many Americans were forced to reevaluate their relationships with work.
Before enrolling, Cheatwood was already familiar with the culinary school as her own mother graduated from the school in 2017. She, too, wanted to explore her passion for cooking after Cheatwood left for college, Cheatwood says, adding that she first learned about cooking at a young age while hanging out with her mom in the kitchen.
“I think that I was a good home cook, but in order to become a chef, you have to throw most of what you know out the window and learn how to cook like a real chef would,” says Cheatwood. “They taught me the role of a chef and everything that goes along with it, including food safety, sanitation, creativity, and more.”
At Café Modern, which is operated by Wolfgang Puck Catering, Cheatwood serves as both a savory and pastry chef. She works both on the restaurant side as well as for catering events including weddings, parties, and festivals.
“Luckily, most of the people I work with also went to the Culinary School of Fort Worth,” says Cheatwood. “It is very nice knowing that we were all taught the same way and we can problem solve together.”
The culinary school’s hands-on approach to learning has definitely helped Cheatwood in the real-world kitchen, she says, especially having had the opportunity to learn from her mistakes.
“I think about those mistakes that I made while in school all the time,” Cheatwood says. “If I had not made those mistakes with my own hands, I would not know how I went wrong or how to fix it.”
As she is cooking professionally today, Cheatwood says she can still hear her chef instructors in her ear remind her that she has the foundation for what it takes in a restaurant kitchen.
“Now it is what you do with that foundation that makes you a chef,” she says.
For folks on the fence about enrolling in the Culinary School of Fort Worth, Cheatwood strongly recommends the program.
“You will never regret it,” she says. “Even if you do not go into the culinary industry, you will learn so much about food and eating that you never would have realized. Isn’t food cool?”
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THE CULINARY SCHOOL OF FORT WORTH
Most schools can teach you the techniques of cooking and baking but The CSFTW excels at preparing you for the real-world kitchen. With our small class sizes and chef instructors who are intentional with every student, you will receive more one-on-one instruction and insight. Our school boasts in preparing students to exemplify excellence in their culinary community. We are a small, unique school that focuses on the student’s needs and we take great joy in seeing our students succeed in the culinary industry.