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CWC’s Cooking With Community project awarded $22,000 in competition

JACKSON, Wyo. — CWC Hospitality Program Director, Amy Madera, decided last fall that the UW John P. Ellbogen $50,000 Entrepreneurship Competition was an exceptional alignment to the Food and Beverage Operations course curriculum.

Students applied their academic knowledge throughout the semester to create and design a mobile commercial teaching kitchen, including a custom-designed trailer, culinary equipment, and a truck to haul the kitchen trailer to local, regional, and state-wide locations.

CWC Hospitality Program Director, Amy Madera, pursued the UW John P. Ellbogen $50,000 Entrepreneurship Competition last fall with her culinary students. Photo: CWC

Madera and her six students went to work, preparing their project, “Cooking With Community,” designed to offer year-round culinary instruction in Jackson and surrounding counties the college serves, including training on regional farms and the Wind River Indian Reservation. The mobile unit will also be available for on-site catering and special events.

The Jackson culinary students worked throughout the Fall 2020 semester to prepare and submit the project. Cooking with the Community was ultimately selected as one of the 25 student-led teams for the competition. By the end of the fall semester, they found out they were one of the nine finalists.

In order to continue in the competition, students were required to enroll in the UW Spring 2021 entrepreneurship class. The competition required students to work through each phase of the planning and control process to demonstrate mastery of the course. It was an excellent opportunity for real-world applications. Tuition and fees for the students were paid by the Charlie Trotter’s Culinary Education Foundation.

Last month, the University of Wyoming announced that Cooking With Community was the “Top Submission-Community College Team” award winner ($1,000). The project also received the “Top Submission-Best Ability to Positively Impact Wyoming ($1,000)” award. Furthermore, Cooking with the Community received a special commitment of $20,000 from the John P. Ellbogen Foundation, as a nonprofit organization.

“This was an amazing opportunity for our CWC students. They were exposed to expert entrepreneurs in all fields. They were required to submit weekly journals about how we were progressing in our project. Each student played a different role in the process and now they can reflect back to see how far our team has come, together,” said Amy Madera. “The students are learning a wealth of knowledge for successfully bringing an idea to fruition and receiving so much support for all of their hard work and dedication. We are so grateful for the mentorships and donations we have received so far,”

To exemplify the challenges students must overcome to pursue a culinary education, Madera said that oftentimes Tribal members from the Wind River Indian Reservation drive up to 400 miles round trip to earn a degree in Jackson because CWC is the only culinary school in Wyoming.

“We have rented 20 kitchens around the valley since 2007 which adds additional barriers for our chef instructors and students. This mobile teaching trailer will help to alleviate these two challenges,” said Madera.

This award, combined with gifts from private donors, brings the project halfway to its fundraising goal of $145,000.

To learn more about this community project or how you can support the CWC culinary program, please contact Amy Madera or Shan Kingston at Central Wyoming College-Jackson, 307-733-7425.

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