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December 2019

111th Graduation Gallery

Culinary Institute LENOTRE® 111th graduating class walked across the stage and into their bright culinary futures on Friday morning May 20th, 2019. With students from Culinary Arts, Baking & Pastry Arts and Restaurant Management – Houston is sure to witness the #LenotreLegacy first hand! Congratulations to all our graduates and good luck!

Rebecca Patterson - Graduation Speech

     Some of my earliest memories as a little girl, were helping my mama in the kitchen. Whether it was peeling potatoes or mashing bananas for banana bread. She started me young. Then, when I was just a little bit older, I remember running through the cow pasture and crossing the street (*shhhhh don’t tell mom*) to my great grandmother’s house where she always had a buttermilk pound cake sitting on the table. I would cut myself a big slice, pour a glass of sweet tea, and sit with her on the porch swing.

     Later on, she shared her recipe and I made it myself at home. These few memories are what sparked my love of baking and my desire to be a pastry chef. In my freshman year of high school, my parents signed me up for my first official culinary class and I fell even more in love.


     Years passed and I made some detours, but finally I signed up for classes here at LeNotre in 2017. I was excited and terrified all at once. Then Harvey happened and I just knew that my schooling was going to need to take a backseat while we figured out our next steps as a family. But thanks to my parents sacrifice I was still able to attend culinary school, and for that I am so very grateful. I started in October 2017 and my time at culinary school has been some of the best of my life.

     Journey through culinary school My first day of class, I was so excited that I was in the parking lot a whole hour before the doors even opened. I got my kit and went up to class and the first thing we were told to do was open our kits and make sure we had all our tools. I hadn’t even had my kit open for 5 whole minutes when I promptly cut my thumb on my bread knife. I thought, “Oh no, I can’t be THAT girl.” Luckily, I wasn’t. The Chefs, especially Chef Christelle, taught me the joy of baking and pastries. Everything from breads to cakes and chocolate showpieces. They each invested so much in me, taking the time to make sure I was doing things right while also encouraging my creativity. Chef Christelle once told me “if you are doing something new, how can anyone tell you that you are doing it wrong?”

     This philosophy has stuck with me, encouraging me to mix it up and do something different. Encouragement for the future Jordan Lee Dooley says, “I hope you do big things and go after your wildest dreams. But guess what? You cannot do the big cool things until you learn to show up for the not-so-cool, everyday things. There is no way around that.” So this is a reminder from me to you, no one starts at the top. Remember to show up and do the mundane. Show up on time every day, be consistent, give it your all, and people will notice.

Justin Smith- Graduation Speech

     Each chef knows they have a chef roll of necessary tools they need in order to be successful - a paring knife, chef knife, peeler, and of course, an apron. However, there’s one tool that doesn’t fit in our chef rolls - the person who inspired us to pursue this career. For me, that was a very special man: Mike Brooks, my grandfather.

     When I was younger - and even shorter than I am now - he began to teach me about the ins and outs of proper Texas BBQ. We would travel throughout the state and compete in cook offs. There were a few wins and losses along the way, but that never mattered to me. What mattered to me the most is getting to spend time with my grandfather. We would spend all day working with fire and food to make something delicious at the end of the day. That knowledge and love for cooking stayed with me throughout my life. I brought it with me into the military, where I was “volunteered” to cook dinner every night in the fire department.


     Graduation day means so much more than getting a piece of paper handed to you. It symbolizes the end of a journey, and the beginning of a new one; a transition from one chapter of your life into the next. Our time spent here has played a huge role in our own individual stories. We have worked hard, tried new things, grown as a team, maybe lit a couple things on fire here and there. But we took the heat, and we didn’t get out of that kitchen. We stayed, through blood, sweat, tears, bourguignon, scallops, tartare. I want to say thank you to some of those that have helped me get to where I am today.

     First, I would like to thank all the chefs for their wealth of knowledge and guidance in the kitchen. Second, I want to thank all of my classmates, as we all know the kitchen is a place for teams. Everyday we worked together to get to this point. I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me and eating all of my food, mostly without complaint. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for their love and support in getting me this far. One of my favorite films to date is the 2014 film Chef starring Jon Favreau ,who plays the role of Chef Carl Casper.

     I leave you all with a quote from Chef Casper - “I may not do everything great in my life, but I'm good at this. I manage to touch people's lives with what I do and I want to share this with you.” Fellow graduates, it took us some time, but we are good at this. Now go out there and share.

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