Gateway Community College Foundation Scholarships Help Culinary Students Pursue Food Business Dreams

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

  Culinary students Anthony Luciani and Sheena Infante-Davis share a passion for cooking that started when they were young children and both dream of opening their own business.  

Their hard work paid off recently when they received word that they are the recipients of two of the largest GatewayCOOK-Students.jpg Community College Foundation (GCCF) scholarships.  Anthony received a $1,500 Stan Fivekiller scholarship and a $1,000 CIU Travel Italian Culture Scholarship and Sheena received the Chaine des Rôtisseurs CT Biallage Scholarship in the amount of $2,000. 

The GCCF hosted a Chefs of Our Kitchen (C.O.O.K.) event on June 5 with guest Chef Francesco d’Amuri of L’Orcio restaurant in New Haven.  Anthony and Sheena got first-hand fine dining catering experience while helping at the event, which was one of the largest of the C.O.O.K. series to date.  The culinary series supports GCC students.  

Sheena said that D’Amuri and his wife, Alison De Renzi, helped her to develop greater confidence in her career path through their praise, advice, and encouragement.  She learned about how they settled in New Haven after moving from Florence, Italy.  Their story made an impression because they created a successful family-owned business in a new country.

Sheena said that the GCCF scholarship she received allows her to continue her education.  Pursuing school previously seemed difficult due to a lack of financial support.   Dealing with deaths in her family at a young age, she had to develop coping strategies and frequently volunteers to help young people facing similar struggles.  She was featured on Doors to Hope and Healing, a show about foster care and adoption in Connecticut, where she provided a cooking demonstration.  Besides going to GCC, she is employed at Claire’s Corner Copia as a line cook.  While working in the field, she would like to continue to take classes in business and baking.    

“Becoming a pastry chef and being in the food industry has always been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember.  I enjoy creating an edible body of work and sharing it with others to taste,” said Sheena, whose long-term goal is to open a bakery.

Anthony said that he started cooking when he was five years old, learning how to cook shrimp and watching culinary professionals on television.  His eventual goal is to open his own eating establishment and he is considering different options for doing so.  He has been working with GCC’s culinary catering program doing events for the C.O.O.K. series for the last three years.  In his spare time, he works as an assistant scout master for Boy Scout Troop 907, where he teaches boys about Dutch oven cooking and the group holds cooking competitions.