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Aspiring chef earns local scholarship

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Athens Technical College Culinary Arts student T.J. McGinnis's hard work in class and his dedication to volunteer work earned him the 2012 Classic City Chef's & Cooks Association $500 scholarship, rewarded each year during the Patrick Connor Memorial Golf Tournament. This year's event was held at Athens Country Club August 20.

The annual golf tournament is hosted by CCCCA, the Athens chapter of the American Culinary Federation, and the group uses the event to raise money to support Athens Tech's culinary program and its students. The event is named for Connor, who was a young, up-and-coming Athens cook at Athens Country Club and who was killed in a car wreck in the 1990s.

Winning the scholarship came as a surprise to the 22-year-old Mr. McGinnis, who said being recognized at the tournament luncheon was emotional.

"It was a real blessing, and I felt like a lot of hard work had come around for me," he commented. "I think I volunteered for everything that the local American Culinary Federation did and I was always there helping Chef (Scott) Howard (the college's Culinary Arts program chair)."

Mr. McGinnis began his Culinary Arts studies at Athens Technical College in January and expects to graduate with his associate's degree in Culinary Arts this May. After finishing the degree, Mr. McGinnis is considering enlisting in the military but also would like to travel to Europe. He's also trying to get a job at the Greenbrier Hotel, a national historic landmark and luxury hotel in West Virginia. Those three desires are more short-range plans for Mr. McGinnis.

"Ultimately, I'd love to be a big man on campus at a country club or really nice resort," he said. "I like baking a lot and of my dreams is to be a head baker somewhere."

Mr. McGinnis served on the cooking team that helped with this year's fundraising golf tourney for the Classic City Chef's & Cooks Association. Each year, Athens Technical College culinary students prepare breakfast and lunch for the golfers in the tournament. This year Culinary Arts program Director Scott Howard led the team of students in preparing a Texas-style barbecue lunch that included brisket, pulled pork, barbecue beans, coleslaw and a fiesta salad.

The tournament registered 14 four-man teams and raised $6,000 dollars for the scholarship program.