LDEI Cleveland Announces Scholarship Winner

By Paris Wolfe

Gabrielle Shipta
LDEI Cleveland Scholarship Recipient
Gabrielle Shipta, 25, received the 2020 Culinary Scholarship, sponsored by the Cleveland Chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier International (LDEI). She will use the $2,000 prize to help with tuition as she pursues an associate degree in Hospitality Management with a focus on Culinary Arts at Cuyahoga Community College.

Gabrielle has long been interested in nutrition. “I started getting really into it in middle school,” says the Seven Hills resident. “My mom taught me to read food labels and we ate pretty healthy. I became more interested in nutrition and cooking thanks to a home economics class. The passion derived from there in wanting to keep improving my own health and eating.”

That led her to the dietetics program at Ohio University. Like many students she changed direction her junior year. She says, “I had an epiphany and realized that I like a hands-on approach. I liked cooking and food science.”

And so, Gabrielle shifted focus to culinary nutrition. “I learned a lot and worked more in a kitchen setting. I realized then that I didn’t want to be in a clinical setting, but in a kitchen.”

She received a Bachelor of Science degree in applied nutrition from OU in 2017. She immediately took a job as a part-time sous chef developing culinary medicine in the Center for Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine at The Cleveland Clinic. There she works with Chef Jim Perko and helps patients learn more about food as medicine.

Working at The Cleveland Clinic expanded Gabrielle’s worldview and her desire for culinary skills. Thus, she enrolled in the two-year program at Cuyahoga Community College. Resistant to new student loans, she works two jobs – at The Cleveland Clinic and at Little Birdie Wine Nest in Parma – to earn tuition money.

“I really enjoy hospitality and being creative in the kitchen,” says Gabrielle. “I get pleasure out of serving others and what you can make and present. I like the busy-ness of it.”

During the COVID crisis, classes are online and work has changed. Gabrielle says she spends much more time at a desk. “I’m itching to get up and prep and cook. I miss the craziness and the hustle and bustle of the kitchen.”

Like a true millennial she eschews the idea of a favorite cookbook and prefers social media to inspire her personal cooking. “I use Pinterest,” she says. “I look on Instagram and watch videos. Then I’ll tweak ideas how I like them.”

When she finishes her culinary degree, Gabrielle, wants to work full time at The Cleveland Clinic. Long term she’d like to lead the Culinary Medicine Program and/or become an executive chef. “I want to make a difference in people’s lives through food. Whether it be demonstrating knife skills and cooking skills for an elderly couple wanting to live longer, or teaching quick, easy, healthful meals for a mom developing cooking memories in her children’s lives,” she says, “food is the driving force in my life.”

The LDEI Cleveland Chapter $2,000 scholarship is used to assist and promote women in the professions of food, wine and hospitality. “The award is based on academic accomplishments, career goals, culinary experience, professional and personal references, and financial need,” says Carol Hacker, chair of the Cleveland Chapter’s Scholarship Committee. “Gabrielle is an ideal winner.”