As we continue our series of highlighting our instructors, students, and alumni by telling their stories of successes, aspirations, and inspiration, we sat down with Ben Smith, a graduate from The Culinary School of Fort Worth in August 2020.
CSFTW: How did you get started in the culinary field? What made you want to come to The Culinary School of Fort Worth?
Ben Smith: I’ve always been interested in food, even when I was very little. After graduating high school, I went and flunked out of college a few times before realizing that culinary work was the right pathway for me to take. I ultimately decided that The Culinary School of Fort Worth was the right fit for me because their program and staff are exceptional, and the small, southern town vibes that Fort Worth has made me feel right at home.
What have you been doing since graduation? Where are you working now?
I got to work for Executive Chef Tim Prefontaine at The Fort Worth Club for my externship before deciding to leave to be a pastry chef for Executive Chef Grant Morgan at 97 West, Hotel Drover. Right now, I am also looking into some self-employment options as well.
What were skills that you learned at school that you use in the kitchen now?
The skills I learned at CSFTW are countless! One of the biggest was learning a lot about the food safety and sanitation standards every chef should hold themselves to.
What are your ultimate career aspirations?
I have a lot of goals and have thought about many things. I currently am working on two separate digital portfolios on Instagram, one with all of my culinary creations and the other with all the foragable foods I’ve found and worked with. One day I would like to own my own business selling and trading holistic medicine and foraged goods. As for now, I am in the process of building that business by starting with custom-made pastries/cakes and extravagant French macaron gift boxes.
Who are some of your inspirations in the kitchen?
One of my all-time favorite TV shows that I would binge watch growing up was Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern. Andrew has not only piqued my curiosity in odd foods, but he inspired me to go out into the world and seek the experience that odd foods bring to the table.
Another great inspiration of mine would have to be Alexis Nikole, aka @BlackForager across most social media. Foraging is a lot of fun and there is a lot of information to be learned in it.
What would you say to someone that’s on the fence about coming to CSFTW?
Weigh out your options and invest in your future. Don’t enroll yourself or let someone else enroll you in a program you may not be interested in. To have peace in the culinary industry you have to love your occupation because there’s not a whole lot of money to be made in the industry unless you’re willing to work extra hard for it.
Written by James Creange.