Future Champions

Published in Edible Asheville 

Every year, A-B Tech’s award-winning culinary and baking programs select a small group of students to represent the school at state and national competitions. Often, these students, also known as the “hot foods team,” compete in the prestigious American Culinary Federation National Convention, where A-B Tech has made a record 13 appearances—more than any other culinary school in the country!

The following students comprise the team for the 2022-2023 school year, earning high praise for their cooking and baking skills, creative thinking, dedication to the craft, and leadership abilities.

But this is just the start! Once they’ve received their degrees, the students plan to tackle their ambitions for the future and share with us their career goals for the road ahead.


A.A.S., Culinary Arts | Anticipated Graduation: 2024

When I complete my degree, I plan on traveling around the world, specifically Europe and Asia, cooking and learning. My dream job is to curate the perfect dinner party experience and bring people together through storytelling and food. Food is my life; I’ve been cooking since I was 5-years-old, and I have always dreamed of going to culinary school. The best part about my passion is sharing with my friends and family. I feel very fortunate to do what I love every single day and to be a part of A-B Tech’s competitive hot foods team!


A.A.S., Culinary Arts | Anticipated Graduation: 2023

Eventually, I plan on opening my own food truck, bringing my Italian family traditions to Western North Carolina. Before that, I plan on working my way up to chef de cuisine at a restaurant to broaden my knowledge. I’m very passionate about cooking because I can express myself through my delicious food. My grandmom from Italy inspired me to reach my dreams and shoot for the culinary stars. I’m also a member of the hot foods team, and this has been an amazing experience and has pushed me to do more.


A.A.S., Baking and Pastry Arts | Anticipated Graduation: 2023

I dream of being a pastry chef with my own fine-dining dessert bar, serving gourmet tortes, petit fours, and ice creams. And if I could open up anywhere, I would stay here in the Asheville mountains. I grew up on the coast of North Carolina, and art has always inspired me—whether it is painting or sculpting. Now, I’ve found a deep passion in baking and pastry arts, and I spread my love of art through delicious baked goods.

A-B Tech’s pastry program has taught me so much about this field and that I am only limited by my imagination. My days are always busy, between working as an opening baker at Filo [a bakery in East Asheville], competitive cooking with the hot foods team, and college classes. I thought I just wanted to be a bread baker, but I know I can do so much more.

JASON GRAY (Team Captain)

A.A.S., Culinary Arts | Anticipated Graduation: 2023

In two to five years, I would love to be running my own kitchen as an executive chef. My dream job is to own my own restaurant. I would love something small and somewhat intimate, so that I’m able to have regular interaction with my customers; that is why I’m passionate about doing this job.

Food, in general, is capable of bringing people together. I love the relationships that I’ve created through my food, especially my cakes! I made this late-career switch after baking my first cake from scratch in early 2019. The cake tasted great, but wasn’t the most elegant-looking cake. As I continued to hone my decorating skills, people started offering me money to bake special occasions cakes for them. The culinary world challenges me each and every day and allows me to express my creativity.


A.A.S., Culinary Arts | Anticipated Graduation: 2023

Cooking good food has been a dream of mine since I was young. However, that dream very quickly became a reality once I started A-B Tech’s culinary program. Through A-B Tech, I was able to get a job at a 5-star resort in Waynesville, “The Swag,” and I’ve been pushing myself even further, learning techniques and developing a palate to become a chef.

One of my chefs suggested I try out for the competitive team, and ever since that first tryout, I’ve been hooked. Next year, we plan on winning first place in the ACF National Culinary Team Hot Food Conference. From there, I plan on graduating and pushing myself even further in the industry. One day, I’d like to be known for my belief that food is more than just a combination of ingredients, but a source of joy to be shared with those you love.

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