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ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Clay White

Graduate Clay White poses for a picture in front of flowers, in chef uniform.A Sandhills Community College graduate’s culinary career is heating up in more ways than one. Chef Clay White’s new kitchen will be outfitted with bright lights, audio equipment, and TV cameras. Beginning a foray into television, White is currently filming a 13-episode cooking show in New York City called “Grilling with Chef Clay.” Slated to be shown on Eat This TV and Roku, the show will air in September.

After working in the culinary industry since he was 16, White enrolled in SCC’s Culinary Arts program and graduated in 2014. “I was already working as a chef and felt that the industry wanted chefs to have that degree,” he said.

White was a talented cook ever since a young age. Born and raised in North Carolina, watching his grandmother prepare meals sparked his passion for cooking. “I joined the Army at 17 for the GI Bill® to help with my later culinary education,” White said. “At the time most, culinary schools were private and very expensive. After my service, I worked in the hospitality industry, waiting for the right time to earn a diploma. I was pleased to see SCC start a Culinary Arts program which allowed me to achieve the goal of getting a degree,” White said.

His degree opened doors for new opportunities. “Since graduating, I was able to ask for higher wages, progress fast, and achieve better positions. I also started my own private chef and catering business. Just a couple of years out, I began teaching at Fayetteville Technical Community College’s culinary school,” he said.

White’s culinary career earned him unique experiences. In 2017 he led a four-man team to the Dominican Republic, where he cooked North Carolina BBQ for the United States Embassy and over 1,500 dignitaries from around the Caribbean. He’s even cooked for celebrities and politicians.

White assembled a BBQ Competition team through the Kansas City BBQ Society and became a master judge. He became a Board Member and head instructor with the North Carolina BBQ Society. He has traveled to Costa Rica to cook for a private church and pastors.

White is also a certified sommelier through the Court of Masters Guild and the Society of Wine Educators. “The wine appreciation class at SCC opened my heart to a wonderful new world and led me to become a Sommelier,” White said.

White excelled at SCC. He was the President of the Hospitality Club, earned a spot on the Dean’s List for two years, and became a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the American Culinary Federation. “I made many great memories during my time at Sandhills,” White said.

He explained that the quality of the culinary program and the facility made his time at SCC special. “The chef instructors all had amazing backgrounds.”

Based out of Pinehurst, White works all over North Carolina. He continues his culinary education at every chance he gets. He hopes to continue creating TV shows and take on another executive chef position before he retires.

White offered this advice for SCC students, “Study, dream, imagine, and make it all happen! It is all possible and up to you.” We look forward to seeing what’s next on the menu for White.

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