SPC Graduate Milas Eli Williams
It's routine to see chef faculty members from St. Philip's College in the kitchens of television studios, but one St. Philip's College student who graduates from the college on Dec. 15 has been a leader in those TV kitchens regularly for positive reasons beyond the culinary, helping youth define their path in life.
The student chef and television personality who gives back is Milas Eli Williams, founder of World Lolei Enterprises.
"It's a nonprofit organization. We are working with the youth to embrace the things they love, as we try to steer them into having more career options," Williams explained.
His last large-scale project before walking the graduation stage on Dec. 15 was a Thanksgiving-themed Youth Empowerment Dinner for 300, featuring food prepared in part by top competitors in the innovative Junior Chef Competition project, of which Williams is the competition’s founder.
According to news reports this summer, Williams is building partnerships and changing lives in the community and beyond.
The online version of one report reveals "The Junior Chef Competition, held on July 22nd was about much more than food. While the meals were nothing to ignore, the competition really represented an outward illustration of how the lives of youths resemble a recipe. Add the right ingredients, and you have a recipe for success... Williams and one of the competition winners, Brandon Houston of Sam Houston High School spoke about growing up as they demonstrated Houston's competition-winning dish.”
On campus, Williams engaged fellow students and faculty of the college’s Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts department in support of the competition, after identifying the two-year-old kitchen lab at his alma mater---Sam Houston High School---as the site for changing the lives of students currently enrolled at the high school. Off campus, Williams engaged support from Bexar County Small Business and Entrepreneurship Department director Rene Watson, and an all-star lineup of such mentor-hospitality leaders as Chef Johnny Hernandez and Brent Baldschwiler (Ben E. Keith).
While department chair Chef Will Thornton served as a judge at the competition held at Sam Houston High School, department faculty members Chef Patrick Brown and Chef Cris Goloby served as coaches for the two competing teams of youngsters who went head-to-head in a hot foods competition.
According to one report on the event, "Young chefs from around San Antonio got a chance to compete in the 2017 junior chef competition at Sam Houston High School on the east side. The event was organized by a Sam Houston alum who wanted to give back. Chef Mila WIlliams, a graduate from Sam Houston High School, organized the competition and says that he hopes to show kids from this part of town that they can dream big too. "I remember growing up on the mean streets of the east side. Now I was not as bad as some of my peers, but I was one of the ones that had a vision," he said.”
The event Williams offers is a one-day tournament where teens 14-17 form two teams of five. The teams face-off in a kitchen setting as they prepare different dishes from scratch. The contestants receive feedback from judges on taste, presentation and culinary skills. Professional chefs are assigned to each team. Chef coats and pants are given to each contestant. The August event at Sam Houston High School was live streamed to Williams' web page.
"Whenever I passed St. Philip's College while I was growing up, I promised myself, 'I'm going there one day,’ " said Williams. "I could see the campus, beyond all the gang bangers and girls having babies at an early age in my neighborhood, because in the 80’s and 90’s, St. Philip's College was interacting with the community. At the libraries and the community centers, they were always there. That was the pride of the East Side. That was our Houston-Tillotson," he said in reference to a Historically Black College.
"The focus on building new buildings at the campus in recent years is nice, but what about building new relationships with the youth in the community?" Williams questioned before providing an answer. "We want to revitalize the community's relationship and keep St. Philip's College at the forefront when kids here think of where they want to go to college. To motivate students to want to go to St. Philip's College, I promote the college during my television appearances with the kids. When you look at the youth in the video, realize that St. Philip's College students and faculty and industry partners including my employer (David Gates, the principal at Anne Maries Restaurant & Catering) are surrounding them off camera, facilitating their success," said Williams, pointing out current student Richard Hernandez and the student he recruited---Samantha Morales---in sous chef roles in one archived televised news report.
"I once told Samantha, 'I am living the program of St. Philip's College, so I can tell you the positives from a fact-based perspective.' That’s how I convinced her to withdraw from one overly-priced culinary college to enroll with us and invest the tuition difference toward her future business," Williams shared of one student at the college who gave back by appearing on television with the event team.
“My events share evidence that students---investors in St. Philip's College---are about promoting education. At my events, I say 'Some of you may not become chefs when this is over. This competition may be the stepping-stone to becoming a great doctor or lawyer, but you need to start somewhere.' We have students and chefs representing CIA and Masons and Shriners and others that came to be sponsors. The Kitchen Campus of Chef Johnny Hernandez was one of the donors for an event," Williams shared.
Williams is departing the campus as that rare combination of outstanding student and outstanding alumnus after Dec. 15, with plans to give back and grow business.
"I want to continue to continue to work with the young as I build and start my own business---a restaurant. I have an idea to open up fine dining restaurants in urban communities. Some don’t to want to do it, but I’m willing to do it because it's not being done," he concluded.
Williams is actively seeking partners in his program. To find out about partnership opportunities, contact Williams at the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/WORLDLOLEI2017/.
The St. Philip's College 138th commencement ceremony is Dec. 15 at 7 p.m. in Freeman Coliseum at 3201 E. Houston St., with 600 students in caps and gowns who, like Williams, have been on amazing journeys en route to obtaining degrees and certificates from more than 160 fields of study. All are welcome to attend the event. For details on the Dec. 15 ceremony, visit the college graduation page at http://alamo.edu/spc/graduation/, email the college record and registration team at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Tracy Shelton, the college’s associate director of records and registration, at 210-486-2700, email@example.com.
ONLINE ARCHIVAL RESOURCES:
WOAI | San Antonio Living | A recipe for success | http://news4sanantonio.com/sa-living/junior-chef-competition
KENS5 GreatDaySA | Guiding Today's Youth | http://www.kens5.com/entertainment/television/great-day-sa/guiding-todays-youth/459383843
KENS5 on YouTube | Young chefs compete in San Antonio's first junior chef competition | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGYJCiESJcg
KENS5 | http://www.kens5.com/features/young-chefss-compete-in-san-antonios-first-junior-chef-compeition/458851694
SAISD on Facebook | Sam Houston HS alumnus wanting to give back hosted a Junior Chef Competition this weekend at his former high school. | https://www.facebook.com/SanAntonioISD/photos/pcb.10156368357161102/10156368302616102/?type=3&theater