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Culinary Arts program gives back to local community

Holmes Community College’s Culinary Arts program, established in 2020 on the Ridgeland Campus, is going strong and giving back in the local community. Under the guidance of instructor Chef Alexei Harrison, the two-year program operates out of the Woods Williams Complex on the Sunnybrook Children’s Home campus and has served faculty, staff, students, alumni and residents of Sunnybrook through a variety of events during the 2021-22 school year.


During Homecoming 2021, held on Thursday, Oct. 21 in Goodman, the students had the opportunity to show off their skills by cooking/serving the guests at the Alumni Tent. Part of this honor even included serving the Alumni of the Year recipients who were recognized during a special ceremony as part of the festivities.

The students also prepared food and served at two Meet and Greet sessions in collaboration with Rachel Bickerstaff’s Job Search Skills class. The culinary arts students prepared and served the food while Bickerstaff’s class mingled with Holmes administration/staff members and enjoyed the treats. This allowed the students in Job Search Skills to practice dining etiquette for business functions and work on their networking skills while culinary arts students had a chance to practice their craft.

On Nov. 22, the Culinary Arts Program provided a Thanksgiving meal for residents of Sunnybrook Children’s Home.

“So many of our youth struggle to find reasons to be thankful during the holiday seasons,” said Sunnybrook Children’s Home Executive Director Myrle Grate. “The Holmes Culinary Arts program’s generosity has helped to create a true spirit of thankfulness and community for Sunnybrook and our young people.”

Chef Harrison said that the idea to serve at Sunnybrook began when the restaurant that normally caters the Sunnybrook Thanksgiving wasn’t able to this year.

“The Holmes Culinary Arts program currently leases the Sunnybrook kitchen, so I thought why not do a Thanksgiving meal allowing us to serve the staff and residents of Sunnybrook Children’s Home?” Harrison said. “I first reached out to my culinary arts students and asked if they would be willing to help since they would be out on Thanksgiving break. They unanimously volunteered as well as many of the Holmes family, neighbors and local churches. Volunteers from three counties graciously donated their favorite dishes allowing us to do a huge potluck dinner. The culinary arts students prepared complementary dishes and beverages while also serving the guests. We couldn’t be more excited and grateful for the outpouring of support to make this the best Thanksgiving ever for our friends at Sunnybrook!”

The Culinary Arts program also prepared and served guacamole for Career-Technical Education’s Open House on campus. This event allowed everyone on campus to learn more about Holmes’ CTE programs and get a glimpse into what all they learn during the programs. Additionally, they prepared and served food for a professional development event for Holmes faculty and staff members. During the session, participants were even able to learn from the culinary arts students as they taught kitchen skills they have learned.

“Culinary Arts has had an active year, planning and executing events both on and off campus,” Chef Harrison said. “We have a few spring events scheduled as well including: a Health Fair in collaboration with University of Mississippi Medical Center, a Meet and Greet and serving the hospitality room for our campus Career Fair.

“We also started a chapter of DECA, a student organization which prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management. Collegiate DECA’s Competitive Events Program allows students to put their experience, skills and knowledge to the test while representing Holmes Community College at the State and National level. Career opportunities abound for culinary arts students and we receive constant inquiries from those in industry looking for trained and talented student chefs.”

For more information on the Culinary Arts program contact Chef Harrison at


Pictured are (front row, left to right) Chef Alexei Harrison, Teana Neal, Emily Oviedo, Jocelyn Pate, Arica Evans, Aryn Margaret Lord, Sarah Beth Hammons, Amber Cotton, (back row, left to right) LaSandra Montgomery, Arthur Rodgers, Dakota Dearing, Sean Jordan, Tristan Prince, Vaneé Blount and Alana Dalhart. Not pictured: Andre Allen, Erik Vazquez Diaz, Elijah Hudson, Jaylin Smith, Anthony Stone and Taylor Williamson.
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national origin, sex, age, disability or genetic information in its educational programs and activities,
employment practices, or admissions processes. The following administrators have been designated to handle
inquiries regarding the non-discrimination policies of Holmes Community College:

Inquiries regarding compliance with Title VI, ADEA, and Title IX are coordinated by the Vice President for
Compliance and Institutional Research, Henry B. McClellan Administration Building, Post Office Box 369,
Goodman, MS 39079, Phone: 662-472-9429,

Inquiries regarding compliance with Section 504 and ADA are coordinated by the Disability Student Services
Coordinator, M.R. Thorne Vocational-Technical Building, Room 110, Post Office Box 369, Goodman, MS 39079,
Phone: 662-472-9088,
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