The Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival celebrated success Tuesday.
The success is in a student named Xavier Thompson. He wants a career in the culinary industry and the FWFW is helping to fund that goal.
Proceeds from the annual three-day festival support the FWFW Foundation, a nonprofit organization that raises funds for grant programs and culinary scholarships. The foundation awarded Thompson scholarship money to pay for studies at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
The investment is paying off. The 20-year-old Thompson survived two years of rigorous study to earn his Associates Degree this month, the first step in his plan.
“The best part of culinary school is being able to learn not just as chef but pairing food with wine and the history of how food gets to your plate,” he said.
The challenge is the time.
"Every three weeks, there’s a new class. Every seven days, a midterm. Every 14 days, there’s a final," Thompson said. "And in between, there’s cooking.”
Thompson, a 2015 graduate of Northside High School in the Fort Worth Independent School District, returned home for a break and a chance to celebrate his accomplishment. He and members of the foundation gathered for lunch in downtown Fort Worth to reconnect.
At the table, Thompson chatted it up with some of the most well-known in the city’s culinary scene: Jon Bonnell, chef and owner of four restaurants, including his signature Bonnell’s Fine Texas Cuisine; Richard Cook, co-owner of Ellerbe Fine Foods; and Russell Kirkpatrick, general manager of Reata in Sundance Square and co-founder of FWFW.
“They have given me more than what I could imagine,” Thompson said. “I never envisioned any of this when I applied for the scholarship, but they went above and beyond my needs.”
The FWFW Foundation awarded Thompson scholarships his freshman and sophomore years. The financial support will be there again when Thompson returns to school in January to pursue a bachelor’s degree in food science. He eventually wants to work for a large food manufacturer to create foods that feed families.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Xavier and all that he has accomplished,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are truly lucky to have played a minor part in his success. Everyone associated with the festival and foundation is extremely excited to see everything that the future holds in store for this talented young man.”
In just fours years, the foundation has awarded more than $125,000 in scholarships and pro-grams decided to students pursuing culinary careers.