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Announcing the 2009 Yum-o! Organization Scholarship Winners

October 5, 2009  • 

(Chicago, IL) — In partnership with the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF), Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! organization is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Yum-o! Organization Scholarship. Yum-o! has awarded ten $2,500 scholarships to graduating high school seniors who have enrolled in a post-secondary foodservice program to support their dreams of pursuing a career in the foodservice industry. Scholarship winner Tyler Ammann, above left.

"We’re excited to see such a diverse and talented group of individuals apply for, and win, the Yum-o! scholarship. It is a true testament to the persistence, passion and creativity that the restaurant and foodservice industry is all about," said Andrew Kaplan, Yum-o!’s Director. The winning students are:

  • Vanessa Beasley – Hammond, LA, University of New Orleans
  • Tyler Ammann – Sunriver, OR, Western Culinary Institute
  • Colin Pollock – Jamestown, OH, Sinclair Community College’s Culinary Arts Program/Columbus State
  • Kayla Distler – Loveland, OH, Culinary Institute of America
  • Ericka Hussman – Des Moines, IA, Des Moines Area Community College
  • Katherine Janowiak – Hoffman Estates, IL, Culinary Institute of America
  • Brian Shaw – Sheboygan, WI, Fox Valley Technical College
  • Benjamin Garth – Hackettstown, NJ, Baltimore International College
  • Emily Green – Bivins, TX, Art Institute of Dallas
  • Alex Theodoroff – Sheboygan, WI, Kendall College

Additional information about the winners is available, below:

Vanessa Beasley, Hammond, LA
Vanessa Beasley graduated from Hammond High School with honors and is now attending University of New Orleans, majoring in Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism. She won the Louisiana ProStart® Culinary Competition in New Orleans and participated in the Chef’s Evening event and North Shore Dining Experience. Vanessa’s experiences and educational path are preparing her for a future career goal of one day owning her own restaurant.

Tyler Ammann, Sunriver, OR
Tyler Ammann graduated from Bend Senior High School and is now attending Western Culinary Institute. He anticipates earning his Associate’s degree in Baking & Pastry Arts. Having worked in fine dining establishments, his background and experiences ultimately helped him realize his passion for baking. His dream is to open his own bakery specializing in cookies, cakes, pastries, muffins and, of course, the best coffee to go with them!

Colin Pollock, Jamestown, OH
Colin Pollock graduated from Greeneview High School, but also participated in the ProStart® Program at Greene County Career Center (GCCC). He competed on the medal-winning GCCC culinary team and competed in Nutristars. His short-term goal is to complete Sinclair Community College’s Culinary Arts program, then transfer to Columbus State. His long-term career dream is to become a chef, a role in which he can apply his creativity and educational experiences.

Kayla Distler, Loveland, OH
Kayla Distler, an honor roll graduate of Loveland High School, is now studying at the Culinary Institute of America. She plans to earn a Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management. Her experiences gained working at the Oasis Conference Center are helping her pursue her dream to own a restaurant, where she can display her leadership and creativity. She has a keen understanding of how much work goes into cooking and how much passion one needs to pursue such a time-demanding career.

Ericka Hussman, Des Moines, IA
Ericka Hussman graduated from Central Campus High School and studied in the ProStart® Program. While there, she received the Superintendant’s Award for Culinary Arts. Pursuing her Associate’s degree in Culinary Arts at Des Moines Area Community College, it will round out her understanding of the bakery business. Ericka was the head baker in her high school student-run café, an experience that is sure to help her reach an ultimate career goal of someday owning a cake shop.

Katherine Janowiak, Hoffman Estates, IL
Katherine Janowiak is attending the Culinary Institute of America and is studying Baking & Pastry Arts. While attending William Fremd High School, she participated in a college program where she was the team leader in an Edible Book Baking Competition. She also studied advanced placement French and hopes to live in France after graduating from college. Ultimately, she wants to become an Executive Pastry Chef in a fine dining restaurant.

Brian Shaw, Sheboygan, WI
Brian Shaw’s education at Sheboygan North High School piqued his interest in culinary arts. His participation in the Wisconsin ProStart® Management competition and job experiences preparing and cooking food, as well as training new employees, helped him decide to pursue a career in Restaurant Management. As he continues his education at Fox Valley Technical College, he hopes to gain the knowledge to own a restaurant and live his passion every day.

Benjamin Garth, Hackettstown, NJ
Benjamin Garth’s culinary class at Warren County Technical High School not only gave him the confidence to become a chef, it also taught him business skills. Graduating with honors, he now attends Baltimore International College and is pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Management. His ultimate dream is to become a culinary teacher. Nothing would make his day more than to inspire children that are in the same shoes he was in not too many years ago.

Emily Green, Bivins, TX

Emily Green is a graduate of Atlanta High School and is a member of the National Honor Society and a Texas Scholar. She is now attending the Art Institute of Dallas and majoring in Culinary Arts and Restaurant & Catering Management. Her catering experience kept her in the middle of preparation and presentation. Emily’s strong academic foundation and work ethic have helped prepared her for her ultimate career goal of becoming a professional chef and managing her own catering business.

Alex Theodoroff, Sheboygan, WI

Alex Theodoroff’s participation in the ProStart® Program at Sheboygan North High School and his involvement in several culinary competitions, such as the Culinary Food Olympics and the Kohler Food and Wine Experience, have developed his leadership, team-building and culinary skills. As he pursues his Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts at Kendall College, he will expand his knowledge to reach his goal of becoming a head chef and owning a specialty restaurant. Alex looks forward to sharing his joy of cooking with others.

Information about the 2010 Yum-o! Organization Scholarhip will be available in the future at

About the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation

As the philanthropic foundation of the National Restaurant Association, the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (NRAEF) enhances the restaurant industry’s service to the public through education, community engagement, and promotion of career opportunities. The restaurant and foodservice industry is comprised of 945,000 restaurant and foodservice outlets and a workforce of 13 million employees, making it one of the nation’s largest employers. The NRAEF is focused on working with the Association to lead America’s restaurant industry into a new era of prosperity, prominence and participation by providing the valuable tools and resources needed to educate our current and incoming employees. For more information on the NRAEF, visit

The NRAEF’s Scholarships Program awards $1.7 million annually to high school and undergraduate students and educators committed to furthering their education or professional development in restaurant and foodservice management. The NRAEF’s programs have proven successful at recruiting and training the workforce needed to meet the industry’s growth – 3 out of 4 students who have received an NRAEF scholarship are still studying and/or working in the industry.

About the Yum-o! Organization
Yum-o!® is Rachael Ray’s nonprofit organization that empowers kids and their families to develop healthy relationships with food and cooking by teaching families to cook, feeding hungry kids and funding cooking education and scholarships. By providing the tools to create easy, affordable and delicious meals, Yum-o! is changing the way America eats. For more information about the Yum-o! organization, please visit