Scholarship Recipients Information

Noel Allesi

Upon graduation from Orchard Park High School, I am excited to use this Taste of Buffalo scholarship to pursue a dual major in Business Management and Resort and Hospitality Management at Florida Gulf Coast University.  I currently work in the bakery at Orchard Fresh and as a hostess at Sunset Bay. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree I hope to achieve my dream of working in the hospitality field as a manager either on a cruise ship or at a major vacation resort. It is my goal to contribute to a supportive working environment for my co-workers to enable us to best serve our customers.

Ericka Holtz

Upon graduating this June from both Springville-Griffith Institute and W.D. Ormsby BOCES Vocational Center with high honors, I will continue my education at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute and pursue my degree in Baking and Pastry Arts. My participation in Varsity swimming, SkillsUSA competitions and being recognized this year into the National Technical Honor Society has given me a great feeling of accomplishment. The education that I will receive in college will help me achieve my dream of becoming Pastry Chef for hotels, resorts and parks. I am enthused about what the future holds for my creativity and what joy I can bring to people with my creations.

Brooke Marafino

I am a senior at Cheektowaga Central High School and a culinary student at Harkness Technical Center.  I will attend Erie Community College in the fall to earn a degree in Culinary Arts. I currently work part time in the Prepared Foods Department at a food retailer, and plan to pursue a position as a chef upon graduating. I want to improve the health of others by demonstrating that healthy food can taste great.

Carter Richards

I am currently a senior at Williamsville East High School, planning to attend the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY starting in late August.  In school, I participate in Drama Club, Chorus, Vocal Jazz, Art, National Honors Society, and Link Leaders.  Outside of school, I perform with the Academy of Theatre Arts (ATA) in Williamsville and also sing at Calvary Episcopal Church. I work at Giancarlo's Sicilian Steakhouse and Pizzeria, as a dishwasher, and also at Tim Horton's Café and Bake Shop. In my free time, I enjoy hanging out with friends, singing and trying new food. I dedicate all my hard work and passion for the culinary field to my father who recently passed away. I hope to make him proud with all my future accomplishments.

Zachariah Schmitz

I am currently a senior at Eden Jr./Sr. High School and upon graduation will attend the Culinary Institute of America. My interest in the culinary industry came to me when I was 14 and started my job at Water Valley Inn.  I began as a busboy and quickly moved to dishes.  While working on dishes I found it fascinating to see how a restaurant operated at the back of the house. I have been influenced greatly by both Chef Paul Gruppouso and Chef James Kuras, who taught me how to cook along with how to work hard and efficiently. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to act as captain to four hard working seniors and lead my team to 3rd place in the Prostart State Competition. I feel like my future is just beginning and I hope to make my mark in the culinary field upon graduation from the Culinary Institute.

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