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 Brianna Hodges, a graduate from The Culinary School of Fort Worth in August 2020.

CSFTW: Who were some of your early inspirations in the kitchen?

Brianna: I was my own inspiration in the kitchen, to be honest. I didn’t really draw inspiration from anyone else. I just knew that I needed to be in the kitchen otherwise I wasn’t going to fulfill my bigger purpose.

What made you want to get a culinary education and come to The Culinary School of Fort Worth?

It was convenient, it was close, and the price was great. Also, CSFTW had good reviews online, so I knew other people liked it too. I knew I wanted to be in the culinary field, so going to school for it was a natural first step.

What have you been doing now that you’ve graduated?

I’ve been working a lot. I’m Chef Garde Manger at the Timarron Country Club in Southlake, so I’m doing charcuterie boards, salads, and cold items. I make ceviche, raw salmon nachos, ahi tuna, and other food like that.

I really like working on the cold side of the kitchen. I guess I realized that I didn’t want to be in front of the fryer, grill, or anything else on the hot side. I kind of landed doing cold kitchen, but I have developed a passion for it as well. It’s definitely the best of all stations in the kitchen to work in.

Have you always considered yourself to be an artistic person? How do you draw inspiration for the cold plates that you put together?

Oh yeah, definitely. I like to go on Pinterest and Instagram and look at all of the new modern ways that people are making their charcuterie boards. Also, I ask a lot of questions. I constantly ask my chefs what they expect. At the end of the day, it’s not really what you want. They have to be happy with what they see on the boards.

What are some of the skills that you learned at school that you use in the kitchen now?

The big one is definitely mise en place. Also, I think that the advice to always keep busy in the kitchen has been great for me. I want to make sure that I’m always doing something. When you’re on someone’s clock, you don’t want to waste any of your chef’s time or money. I use a lot of those examples of excellence that Chef Hitri instilled in me. Those have been very helpful.

What are your ultimate career aspirations?

That’s a hard question. I’m so happy with where I am now. I’ve reached a lot of the goals that I set for myself. I don’t see myself ever being a head chef or climbing up the ladder like that. When I first started, my goal was pretty much to have a stable job that pays more than $15 an hour, is five minutes from my house, and gives me benefits. And that’s where I am right now, so I am very happy. I definitely prayed for this. I feel very blessed.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about going to culinary school?

I would say first that if you don’t feel like this is something that you’re going to follow through with in the end, don’t do it. Don’t waste your time. If you’re going to go to The Culinary School of Fort Worth, you need to be prepared to go into the industry because that is what they teach you how to do. You have to love this kind of work, and you have to be willing to do the work. And if you are, it can be a very rewarding work life.