Kelly Williams

Culinary Arts Student Ranks Higher Than Expected in SkillsUSA National Competition

19-year-old sophomore Kelly Williams’ name was never associated with the word ‘cooking’ until she enrolled in the Coahoma Community College culinary arts program.

Culinary Arts Student Ranks Higher Than Expected in SkillsUSA National Competition

Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4157 - Melody Dixon

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Fri Aug 31, 2018

Kelly Williams19-year-old sophomore Kelly Williams’ name was never associated with the word ‘cooking’ until she enrolled in the Coahoma Community College culinary arts program.

“I never cooked at home,” says Williams.

A Hattiesburg native, Williams ended up joining the Tiger family after her dad presented her with two options after she graduated from high school.

“My daddy was like, ‘Okay, well either go to the military or go to school.’ So I was like, ‘I’ll go to school,’ said Williams. “And he kept saying, ‘Just do culinary.’ So I was like ‘Okay.’”

She had planned to attend a university but realized she did not want to take on the burden of student loans. Although Kelly had never been known to enjoy cooking at home, she has excelled in the program.

In June, Williams competed on the national level of the SkillsUSA competition in Louisville, Kentucky, representing Coahoma Community College and Mississippi as the first place winner of the SkillsUSA state competition. She beat out contestants from 12 other schools. She proved that her skill in napkin-folding, table-setting and making guacamole was best. Williams remarkably competed in the Restaurant Service category at nationals and placed no. 16 out of the 40 plus students that participated.

SkillsUSA is an association of trade instructors and industry workers that promotes mastery in 100 career and technical fields including carpentry, collision and repair, and even health fields by allowing more than 6,000 high school, middle school and college students to practice their craft in a timely manner. The partnership was developed to help maintain excellent job performance in occupations necessary for everyday living in America.

Kelly is the daughter of Michelle and Victor Williams. Playing the flute and piccolo, she compliments the CCC band by adding a light, high-pitched sound to the brass and percussion sections. She is a role model to two younger sisters and has one older brother.

Upon graduating from Coahoma Community College, Kelly looks forward to joining the Military, then working as a cruise ship chef, a pursuit she has postponed since finding out it would require her to be at least 23 years old.

Head instructor of the culinary arts technology program, Chef Brennon Warr, surprisingly, has a similar story. His job title was never a hope or dream penned into his life plan.

“I really never had any aspirations of being a culinary arts instructor,” says Chef Warr, “but when this opportunity to become a part of the CCC team was offered to me, I thought it would be a great chance to share my professional experiences with a population of students that share the same background as I do.”

Warr, a native of Memphis, Tennessee and L’Ecole Culinaire alumnus, believes the SkillsUSA competition teaches students “real world” lessons in a fun environment. He says that competing against other students is a great example of how competitive the workforce is. He gives major props to Williams for excellently aligning her mind with her actions during the hands-on contests. She is the first student he has had to compete nationally against winners from each of the U.S. states and territories.

“Placing first in the Restaurant Service competition on the state level is huge,” says Warr, concluding that Williams has set the bar for future competitors coming from CCC. “As an instructor, it makes me proud.”

Culinary arts students will be competing in another SkillsUSA state competition in the spring. They will show off their wrist work and demonstrate their cooking abilities in five different categories, including Culinary Arts, Commercial Baking and Restaurant Service.