Eighty of Nicholls State University’s Chef John Folse Culinary students returned home on Monday after spending 10 days in Augusta, Georgia, where they prepared meals for and severed guests — including several celebrity golfers such as this year’s winner Tiger Woods, Bubba Watson and Phil Mickelson, among others — at the 2019 Masters Tournament.
Although the paid internship was an opportunity of a lifetime for the students, Chef John Folse Culinary Institute’s instructor, Chef Randy Cheramie, acknowledged the work the students did in Augusta was far from a cakewalk.
“The majority of them [the culinary students] work in this big building called Berckmans Place, which has five restaurants,” Cheramie explained. “…Starting on that Wednesday through Sunday [of tournament week], each restaurant in that building serves 1,200 to 1,500 people each day.”
During their time there, the chosen 80 scholars (process of Augusta’s selection started in September of last year) slept in dormitories on Augusta’s campus after their 12 to 14-hour shifts. They were not allowed to take any photos while working on the grounds. If caught taking photos, there was a chance, Cheramie said, that they would be fired immediately. “…And find their own way home,” he added.
While working their intense long shifts every day under the strict guidelines Augusta National Club held them to, the students, Cheramie noted, have never faltered over the years, and have given the Chef John Folse Culinary Institute and entire university a great reputation with Augusta National Golf Club since they were first invited there in 2014. “The students go there with no chaperon; they know they’re representing their school and state,” he said.
“John Johnstone [former Director of Club Operations for Augusta] was doing a keynote speech somewhere; he didn’t know that John Folse was in the audience,” Cheramie continued. “And he went on for a few minutes about how great our students were over there, how they work with professionalism and show up every day on time in clean uniforms, ready to work.”
Due to the culinary students’ professionalism, the number of individuals representing Nicholls at the tournament has increased every year from the original 36 in 2014.
Cheramie said in addition to the training, money and moment to positively represent their program and school, it is also an excellent networking opportunity for his students, as they are “elbow to elbow” with some of the best chefs from around the country.
“It’s one of the most prestigious athletic events of the year,” Cheramie said. “For us to be affiliated with it is just a wonderful thing.” •