Tri-County Community College (TCCC) hosted its inaugural La Toque Blanche ceremony on Dec. 3 at the main campus in Peachtree.
Chef Greg Spencer explained the meaning of La Toque Blanche as “the white hat” and recognizes students for successfully meeting the halfway point of the Culinary Arts program.
“This was the first time I have attended a La Toque Blanche ceremony and it was very emotional for me,” said Dr. Donna Tipton-Rogers, president of TCCC. “I know it was special for Chef Spencer and his students when he presented the pledge and placed the hat on their heads.”
Jarrett Palmer, Jonnie Paneto, Jose Renteria, and Case Summerlin comprised the group of students honored at the ceremony.
“Our hats are more than just a way to show how much classwork we’ve done,” said Palmer, a Murphy resident. “I went from never working in a kitchen to being here tonight. I owe Chef and my fellow classmates for always pushing me. If I see Case or Jose stepping up their game in class or in the kitchen, it makes me want to do the same.”
All four students said they felt a deeper connection with their surrounding community after joining the program.
“This program is really about community,” Palmer said. “Chef really believes in giving back to our community and inspires each of us to do what we can, where we can.”
“This time last year, Jose and I, along with eight other students, went to help feed homeless families in need in Hayesville,” said Summerlin, a resident of Brasstown. “We had no professional experience of being in a kitchen, but because Chef expected us to behave like professionals, we rose to that challenge.”
For Paneto, her white hat is a symbol of a long journey, which now has a visible finish line.
Spencer said following the Spring and Summer semesters, they would each receive a diploma and officially complete the program.
“This represents a new stage in my life,” Renteria said. “I feel proud of not only myself, but also my classmates, for how far we have come.”
For more information about the Culinary Arts Program at TCCC, please contact Chef Greg Spencer at (828) 835-4242.
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