Seven Nicholls Culinary Students Chosen to Spend Summer in France

From left: Emily Musselman, Amelia Cummings, Council Smith, Hailey Sellers, Kerry Ford, Taylor Mason and Sabrina Authement. (Misty Leigh McElroy/Nicholls State University)

THIBODAUX, La. — Seven Nicholls culinary students will expand their culinary skills this summer at Institut Paul Bocuse, and for many, achieve a goal they have set since enrolling.

Chef John Folse Culinary Institute seniors Amelia Cummings of Pensacola, Fla., Kerry Ford of LaPlace, Council Smith of Mandeville, Sabrina Authement of Thibodaux, Emily Musselman of Prairieville, Hailey Sellers of New Orleans and junior Taylor Mason of Leesville will travel to Écully, France after classes end in April for three months to attend the world-famous culinary institute.

The Institut Paul Bocuse Worldwide Alliance, founded by the celebrated French chef, unites 14 universities from across the world in the pursuit of top-notch culinary education. Nicholls’ Chef John Folse Culinary Institute is the only school in the United States involved in this partnership and sends its top students to an intensive months-long training at the Institut Paul Bocuse in Écully, France, each year.

Cummings said she is looking forward to trying new foods in France and that this opportunity validates the belief she has in her abilities. She is a member of the Student Culinary Association and is a cook with Sodexo on the Nicholls campus. For two years, she has served as a line cook at the Master’s Golf Tournament and was a cook at Shaya Restaurant in New Orleans and Bistro Byronz in Baton Rouge.

“It’s an honor to be chosen for this. It means that pretty much I’ve made it – I’m just as good as anyone else here,” she said. “I’m always down for tasting anything, and I can’t wait to see what they have to offer.”

Since hearing about Nicholls relationship with the institute, Ford said attending has been a goal of his. The Kappa Alpha president said he is grateful for the opportunity.

“I’ve never been outside of the country and I’m looking forward to just the culture we’re going to be exposed to, not just the food culture, but the overall culture of Europe,” he said. “We’re the only culinary school in all of America that sends students, so it’s just a great opportunity you wouldn’t get anywhere else.”

Smith said he has also been eyeing this trip to France since high school and he is looking forward to learning from some of the best chefs in the world. He is a member of the Student Culinary Association and has worked at Premier Catering, Ox Lot 9 in Covington and at the Master’s Tournament.

“It means that, if I set myself up for goals, and work hard to achieve them, they will come true,” he said. “I’m looking forward to learning more, drinking wine in France and just going everywhere in Europe because I’ve never been.”

For Authement, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity she has earned. She is a co-franchisee of Kona Ice and volunteers at the Bakery at Chef John Folse Culinary Institute.

“It means pretty much the world to me to be able to go with such an amazing, incredible group of students who have wonderful talents, and that we’re going to be able to grow each other’s weaknesses and continue to build on our strengths,” she said. “I’m looking forward to making new friends as well and making connections from all over the world and just building lifelong relationships and memories that will last a lifetime.”

For several of the students, this is their first opportunity to go to Europe, including Musselman, who said she is looking forward to experiencing the culture while continuing her education. She was a Bistro Ruth student worker; is president of Student Culinary Association; and was an intern at Southern Hills Country Club in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and City Pork Brasserie and Bar in Baton Rouge.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever been offered in my entire life,” she said. “It means so much. It’s validation for my entire career thus far, and I just can’t wait for what an incredible journey this is going to be.”

Only a select few students get to represent Nicholls in France, and Sellers said she is looking forward to this experience that she has dreamed about since childhood.

“I’m looking forward to traveling with these other six people and making memories with them,” said Sellers, who has interned at Willa Jean in New Orleans and Cocobean Bakery in Hammond. “I’m also excited to meet people from different backgrounds and different cultures and learning more about them than what we’re just used to here.”

Without this scholarship, Mason said she didn’t think she’d have the opportunity to go to France. She is a member of the Student Culinary Association and was a prep cook at Dining by Design in Baton Rouge, chef at Creative Kids in Leesville and has worked in the bakery departments at Walmart, Marble Slab and Copelands.

“This is a chance to get to represent my school and a chance to get to further my career and hopefully meet some people that I’ll get to stay connected with my whole life,” she said. “It’s a chance to get to make new friends in foreign countries that will mean something to me, and to have another family with the six people I get to go with.”


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