Former Ashland business owner Rick Kouns has established a scholarship at Ashland Community and Technical College for Culinary Arts students. The Lottie B. Culinary Arts Scholarship is for a second year student in ACTC's Culinary Arts Program who has a minimum 2.25 GPA and who demonstrates the ability to succeed in the profession.
The scholarship is named after my grandmother Concetta Lottie Buyalos because she taught me to cook, love food and to be an entrepreneur, Kouns said. She owned the Bank News Stand in the lobby of the old Second National Bank Building and was a major influence in my life. She actually is one of the reasons I am a staunch feminist. The majority of chef owners, and executive chefs are men which is something I would like to see changed.
A 1986 graduate of Holy Family High School, Kouns attended ACC for a year before getting a Business Degree at Mercy College. He started his career as an entrepreneur and owner of The Only Place Café in Ashland. He is now owner of Profit Planners SB, Inc., a consulting firm in New York that works with small to medium businesses on tax and business strategies.
One of the reasons I started this culinary scholarship is that I was not prepared when I started The Only Place Café in Ashland, next to the employment office on Carter Ave., he said. I did not have the background or education to make it thrive. I think the restaurant might have been successful if I had the education that is offered by ACTC's Culinary Arts Program.
Culinary Arts is also something that I am passionate about, Kouns continued. It is a profession that many people take for granted but one that is responsible for the safety of our food. For some, it provides a true American small business dream.
Culinary Arts requires knowledge in many fields such as health, science, business, manufacturing processes, sales and marketing, human resources, negotiating, buyers, quality control, and the list goes on, he said. Most professions do not require that many skills, and Im glad the Culinary Arts program is there in Ashland to start people on the skills they need for success.
The ACTC program offers three diplomas, six certificates and an Associate in Applied Science Degree with options in catering, culinary arts, and food and beverage management. The food and beverage management option includes courses in business, entrepreneurship or management, marketing and accounting.
Culinary students work in a commercial kitchen/laboratory at the Technology Drive Campus as they learn culinary fundamentals. Basic and specialized food preparation, catering and special event planning, nutrition, sanitation, international cuisine, baking and pastry arts, purchasing, cost control and management techniques are some of the subjects covered.
"I really do hope that some of the students in the program start their own business in the Ashland area and help grow the economy. It thrilled me to see that the first recipient of the Lottie B Scholarship was both an entrepreneur and chef," said Kouns.
Scholarship recipient Brandia Prichard is a 1993 East Carter High School graduate who is back in college to prepare for running a restaurant.
"I had originally started college to become a nurse but realized that nursing wasn't for me, said Prichard. I finished an associate degree in science and had plans to continue on for a bachelor degree. I decided to work until the next semester started, and the rest is history."
"I got a restaurant job, and when the owner asked if I wanted to take over running the restaurant, I jumped at the chance. It was only for six months, but that's all it took to find my passion."
"Its my dream to have my own restaurant someday," Prichard said. "I know I have a lot to learn about the ins and outs of this business, and that's why Im back in school. I have all the faith that with the education I am getting now and my prior experience, I will be more than ready to run a business."
Brandia is a very impressive student, said Peggy Bradley ACTC Professor and Culinary Arts Program Coordinator. She understands the true value of getting her education and the difference that it can make in her life and the lives of her family.
"We thank Mr. Kouns for establishing this scholarship that recognizes the importance of culinary arts in the community and the value of our program," Bradley said. "The financial support can be important in helping students finish their degrees, and receiving a scholarship is an affirmation of their choice of a profession."
"This scholarship will help out tremendously with school expenses," Prichard said. "Times are hard right now, and I appreciate a helping hand that I hope to give back someday. She and her husband live with their three sons in Willard."
April 1 is the priority application deadline for fall 2016 scholarships. Applications for the Lottie B. Culinary Arts and other scholarships are on the web at ashland.kctcs.edu under Costs amp; Financial Aid, and the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is at fafsa.ed.gov. For more information on scholarships or financial aid, call 855.246.2282.