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Pinellas Culinary Students, Programs Win Scholarships, Grants

Culinary Training | Cooking | Chef

The scholarships and grants come from the Ryan Wells Foundation in Palm Harbor.

PINELLAS COUNTY – More than 400 guests attended the 10th Anniversary of “Evening with the Chefs” at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort in Clearwater in support of The Ryan Wells Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the culinary arts and hospitality education of Pinellas County students.

Guests dined on the culinary masterpieces of eleven of the best chefs in the area, including Chef John Harris of Rusty’s Bistro at the Sheraton Sand Key, Chef Doug Bebell of Mystic Fish, Chef Scott Bebell of Guppy’s, Chef Justin Harris of Rum Fish Grill at TradeWinds Resorts, Chef Tyson Grant of Parkshore Grill, Chef Mark Hyrcko of Island Way Grill, Chef Jeffrey Jew of Stillwaters Tavern opening in June, Chief Chocolate Officer Bill Brown of William Dean Chocolates, Chef Steve Jordan of Caretta on the Gulf at Sandpearl Resort, Chef Mark Heimann of Vinoy Renaissance Resort, and Chef Chris Ponte of Café Ponte. Each chef partnered with students from culinary programs across the county to serve the night’s cuisine including Dixie Hollins High School, Northeast High School, Osceola Fundamental High School, Tarpon Springs High School and the Clearwater campus of Pinellas Technical College. In addition to the gourmet fare, the evening also featured libations, a live and silent auction, and music. Tampa Bay Magazine has named the fundraiser the “Best Culinary Event” since 2011.

Proceeds from the event support the annual giving of Ryan Wells Foundation student scholarships for post-secondary education and each of the aforementioned culinary programs. Twelve students, eleven of which are graduating seniors from Pinellas County schools, will be receiving a combined $80,000 over the next four years, contributing towards a total of 95 students receiving scholarships worth over $500,000. The culinary programs were also awarded $4,000 each, making school donations surpass the $300,000 mark.

Foundation executive director Ashley Giasone notes “this event always brings tears to my eyes, seeing how excited and grateful the students are to start the next step towards their future careers.” “Evening with the Chefs” is the featured annual event of the Ryan Wells Foundation along with a golf tournament hosted each December. Both fundraisers offer hands-on experience for students to fulfill their dreams, and the dreams of the late Ryan Wells, an aspiring young chef who passed away in June 2005. For information, see For information about the Ryan Wells Foundation, see

Ryan Wells Foundation | Pinellas Schools | Pinellas Culinary Programs

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