The two sisters plan to share their passion for pastries with the public and open a bakery in Oak Ridge. To ensure that the plan is “fully baked,” they’ve enrolled in Hospitality and Culinary Arts at Pellissippi State Community College. Both are concentrations in the Business Administration degree program.
Criswell says the Hospitality class schedule has been a great fit for her.
“I have three teenage boys, and, with my husband being a police officer, I have a crazy schedule already,” said Criswell, “so this program allowed me a lot of flexibility in classes.
“Hospitality is a great combination of cooking and business.”
She is equally enthusiastic about Culinary Arts: “I was so excited to get to go to culinary school and learn all the secrets of a real chef.”
And now, for the icing on the cake: Criswell has been awarded a $1,000 scholarship toward tuition from the Tennessee Hospitality Association’s Education Foundation. She was presented with the award at the Tennessee Hospitality Association Stars of the Industry Gala last month in Murfreesboro.
To be considered for the scholarship, the 40-year-old Criswell submitted an essay about her desire to work in the hospitality business.
“I was very surprised and excited that I won,” she said. “The money will be so helpful. We don’t have a lot of spare money, and with the scholarship I won’t have to be so worried about paying for school.”
She credits Tom Gaddis, coordinator of both Hospitality and Culinary Arts, with providing the guidance and advice to help get the bakery off the ground.
“He has helped Tiffany and me so much,” she said.
Both sisters are due to graduate from Pellissippi State May 2012 with an Associate of Applied Science degree. If everything goes smoothly, the bakery will open its doors this December or in early 2012.
“My sister and I want to have a bakery that our families can be a part of and have a business we can be proud of,” Criswell said.
Culinary Arts is a cooperative effort between Pellissippi State and the Culinary Institute at the University of Tennessee. Students learn culinary skills in a state-of-the-art laboratory/kitchen at the institute. Local chefs with American Culinary Federation certification teach the classes. The students also take courses at, and earn their degree from, Pellissippi State.