This year, Alejandro Guillen, Alexander Italia, and Alejandro Martinez have each been awarded a $2,500 scholarship on behalf of Mitchell Sjerven, owner of bouchon and co-owner of Wine Cask. The American Riviera Scholarship is a grant program Sjerven created on behalf of his Santa Barbara restaurants, bouchon & Wine Cask, awarded to several deserving students enrolled in Santa Barbara City College’s School of Culinary Arts.
Created in 2012, the annual American Riviera Scholarship is awarded to highly motivated students who demonstrate commitment and motivation to complete the major, as well as the potential for success as a chef. Sjerven, a top local restaurateur, has taught the “Restaurant Ownership” course at Santa Barbara City College’s School of Culinary Arts for the past several years. The scholarship aims to draw from the excellent pool of culinary potential at Santa Barbara City College and helps develop Santa Barbara’s reputation as a popular food and wine destination in California. Originally awarded to two students, this year, an additional student was offered a scholarship after enough funds were raised at Wine Cask’s 30th Anniversary Dinner, celebrated in September.
“Santa Barbara is a high cost-of-living town and being a student at City College— no matter how affordable the education itself— is even more challenging,” Sjerven says. “My long-term vision is to see enough financial aid available so that each and every student in the Culinary Arts program can receive tuition assistance to some degree. To that end I challenge every Santa Barbara restaurant that has ever had a student or graduate of the program in their kitchen to create a scholarship. Our community provides unlimited possibilities to give but here is a meaningful way to give back directly to the institution that provides so many staff for so many of our local restaurants.”
In addition to the cash awards, recipients have the opportunity for a paid internship at Wine Cask and bouchon, where they can gain valuable hands-on training working for two of Santa Barbara’s critically acclaimed establishments. Sjerven says, “We are fortunate to be able to draw from this growing and valuable pool of prospective culinary professionals who show real promise in a challenging field.”
Left to right: Alexander Italia, Mitchell Sjerven, Alejandro Martinez and Alejandro Guillen.