by Kelsey Bugjo0
James Beard House Scholarship Winner: Jason Volkmer
Omaha Steaks is honored to sponsor five culinary arts scholarships each year through the James Beard Foundation, an organization created to continue the legacy of iconic American chef, James Beard. The scholarships are awarded annually to students pursuing many areas of culinary studies including cooking, baking, writing, nutrition, food studies, wine studies, and hospitality management.
We are proud to recognize Jason Volkmer as a 2013 recipient of the Omaha Steaks James Beard Foundation Scholarship. Volkmer is in his second year of the culinary arts and management program at Metropolitan Community College (MCC) in Omaha, Nebraska, President of the Tri Omega Culinary Fraternity and currently working as a kitchen supervisor for Omaha’s Marriott Hotel. This is the second time he is being honored as a James Beard Foundation Scholarship winner.
“When I first enrolled in culinary school, I already had the end in mind. My end goal, my dream, is to open my own restaurant. My plan to get to that goal starts with my education. In addition to my degree from Metropolitan Community College, I plan on applying for a Certified Culinarian Certification from the American Culinary Federation,” Volkmer said.
His love for food and the affect it can have on people is what led him to attend culinary school. “I always thought that the way people can come together and reconnect over a meal, or be reminded of a cherished memory by food was something special and I wanted to create more of those moments in the world.” In particular, he enjoys cooking northern Italian cuisine, because it brings people around the table for a good meal and time. He would eventually like to open his own restaurant, he explains, “The dining room will be designed to reduce noise as much as possible so that people can not only enjoy their meal, but the company that they bring with them, too. The decor will be styled to have a feeling that you’re in a historic building in Italy. All of our sauces and pastas will be made in house, along with particular charcuterie.”
Volkmer loves Italian, but as a student at MCC he has also had the opportunity to study abroad in Asia, learning new cooking techniques that he has been able to apply to a variety of dishes. “That experience not only changed my life, but the way I think of food. I learned how people incorporate food into their culture and how it impacts their life.”
While it was one of his most memorable experiences so far in the program, he also recently had the opportunity to work with Master Chef Franco Lania. “He came to our school for a cooking demo and for a special dinner that students got to help prep for,” he said. “I learned a lot of Italian techniques and methods.”
He says earning this scholarship is one of the highlights of his academic career, “I would like to thank Omaha Steaks for their amazing generosity to help culinary students achieve their dreams of not only working in the culinary industry, but to have a college education.”