Jeff State educator named Chef of the Year

Joseph Mitchell is known for his commitment to working with the community just as much as he’s known for his excellent pastries.

Mitchell, the Jefferson State Culinary and Hospitality Institute director, was honored for those traits Oct. 26, when the Alabama Restaurant Association and Alabama Hospitality Association named him Chef of the Year at the organizations’ annual awards dinner in Montgomery. He was selected from three finalists to win the award.

“When you’re acknowledged for something good you do, it’s an honor,” Mitchell said. “It’s very rewarding. It’s exciting. Beyond that, you don’t know if you’ll get it, so there’s some surprise as well.”

Mitchell said the award also helps establish a tradition of excellence at Jeff State for educators and students.

“I think being an educator and part of an educational institution, it’s important for me to do my best and strive to be the best I can be. This recognizes I strive to do my best,” he said. “For the college, it validates the program, the quality of the program.”

After eight years at Jeff State, Mitchell’s next goal is to continue to broaden and deepen the culinary and hospitality program. He said Jeff State officials want to make sure the program is available to any student who wants to participate, and his personal goal is to raise the educational quality even higher.

Mitchell said being named Chef of the Year is just proof that he’s headed in the right direction. He’s looking to be the complete package, a chef that’s as involved in the community as he is in the kitchen.

“I think I’m really fortunate. I work with a wide variety of people, chefs from around the world,” he said. Food is very powerful as it relates to family, fellowship and health. It relates to everything. I get to work with food and I get to work in the educational environment.”

Mitchell was also named Chef of the Year in 2004 by the Birmingham chapter of the American Culinary Federation.

Mitchell will teach a community class on how to build a gingerbread house on Dec. 5 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. To learn more the gingerbread class or about Jeff State’s culinary and hospitality program, visit Jeffstateonline.com or call 983-5214.