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TCC alum lands top chef spot at local eatery

Heather Tripple is a proud Tidewater Community College alumna. She got her start in the TCC kitchens under the tutelage of Chef Deanna “Dee” Freridge. She is now the head chef at The Stock Pot in Virginia Beach.

Chef Heather Tripple at work in Virginia Beach.
Chef Heather serving up tasty dishes at The Stock Pot.

Heather earned her Culinary Arts degree in 2014. She remembers the long days of school and work that got her where she is now.

“I had a dream of having that degree and holding that diploma in my hands. I’m the first in my family to go to college and that makes my parents proud,” she said.  “Also, I proved to myself that I could do it. Today I’ve found my niche and I’m able to get creative with the food I bring to the table.”

While at TCC, Heather worked full-time and rode the bus from Virginia Beach to the Norfolk Campus. She was inspired to pursue a career in the culinary arts after participating in a cooking competition at Cox High School.

“I grew up cooking alongside my mom and grandmother, who both come from southern backgrounds. They both instilled a passion in me for creating delicious dishes at an early age,” she said.

One of Heather’s favorite things about the Culinary Arts program was the hands-on learning that happened from day one. “TCC prepared me the best way possible. I learned the fundamentals, knife skills and also gained knowledge of foods and cultures.”

Using seasonal ingredients keeps meals fresh for guests.

Heather continued, “Some of the classes provided a firm foundation for my position today including Food Costing and Recipe and Menu Management. I use that knowledge daily as I create seasonal menus for our guests.”

Heather also credits Chef Dee with helping her get started in the field. “I had my degree but lacked experience. Chef connected me with the manager at Mannino’s Italian Bistro and my career began,” she said. “That job pushed me and taught me a whole lot. Today, I’m in a position to do the teaching and I have some new hires from TCC. It’s rewarding to come full circle and now get to pour into employees just getting started.”

Gingerbread wow!

Culinary Arts students created a gingerbread village made with frosting flowers, candy rooftops, and a variety of sweet treats. Each gingerbread masterpiece started with an idea and blossomed into a culinary delight too sweet to eat.

The houses are the final exam for the Introduction to Baking class taught by Chef Carolyn Blackmon “My students prepared some beautiful gingerbread houses, all while cooking up the sweet and savory dishes for their final banquet,” Blackmon said. “I could not be prouder of every student involved.”

TCC’s Culinary Arts program has been donating gingerbread houses during the holidays to support Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters for more than a decade.

Baking students created a tasty array of sweet and savory treats for their final banquet.

Blackmon added, “All of the Culinary Arts instructors pitched in to help and really supported us. It was a great team effort.”

Student chefs show off their skills

Culinary Arts students were all smiles as they displayed their skills during the first “Grand Buffet” since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Family and friends gathered to taste savory sandwiches, spicy soups and a variety of cold foods during the Garde Manger (HRI 145) final cooking lab on Oct. 12.

“We are so excited to be here today, demonstrating our skills and gathering as a team,” said Takao Sheridan, TCC student chef. “This class has been a nice mix of difficulty, but more fun in general, especially with the companionship we develop in the kitchens.”

Garde Manger, meaning “keeping to eat” in French, originally referred to a pantry or food storage area. In modern culinary arts, the term refers to the chef who oversees cold food production, including salads and salad dressings, smoked and cured foods, and cold sauces or soups.

“This is the most advanced lab in the Culinary Arts program. This is where students apply the techniques and knowledge they’ve learned, demonstrating artistry and different flavor profiles,” said Chef Deanne Freridge, interim program head and instructor of Culinary Arts.

TCC Culinary Arts students planned, prepared, garnished and presented a variety of cold foods for sampling including sausages, pates, canapes and gourmet sandwiches.

For retired educator Tracey Moore, the class rounds out her catering certificate. Moore, who owns a home-based bakery, chose TCC so she could add catering and savory foods to her menu.

“I love cooking and chose TCC because I knew there were things I could learn here,” she said. “Also, as a breast cancer survivor, I dedicated my food today to honor other survivors and those still affected by the disease.”

Takao added, “This program has given me a great start and prepared me for additional education. I even hope to apprentice in Louisana where they offer Cajun cooking, a favorite Southern style.”

TCC’s Culinary Arts program is accredited by the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission. It is an affordable option for students with classes during the days and evenings. For more information, email or contact the Virtual Student Support Team at or by calling 757-822-1111.

Students create gingerbread houses to spread holiday cheer and raise funds for CHKD

For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Tidewater Community College baking students were back at it, creating a neighborhood of gingerbread houses to be auctioned to raise funds for Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughter (CHKD).

TCC’s Culinary Arts program has been donating gingerbread masterpieces supporting CHKD for more than a decade. The class was led by chef Caroline Blackmon who said, “All of the Culinary Arts instructors pitched in to help and really supported us. It was a great team effort.”

TCC student Madeline Firestone added, “People deserve to enjoy the holidays and every child deserves to be taken care of to the full extent. Cooking is a way to provide for others. It’s a way to show you care.”

Spreading holiday cheer, while learning, was a bonus for all of TCC’s baking students including Angela George. “Frosty the snowman was the inspiration for my house,” she said. “Baking is in my blood, and this class made me want to get back in the kitchen,” she said.

TCC to hold first Virtual Hospitality and Culinary Job Fair

Don’t let COVID-19 sidetrack your career plans.

There’s still time to register for Tidewater Community College’s Virtual Hospitality and Culinary Job Fair on Wednesday, July 22, at 10 a.m. – noon or 2 – 4 p.m.

The virtual event allows you to meet with multiple employers affiliated with the Virginia Beach Hotel Association; Virginia Restaurant, Lodging and Travel Association; and the Virginia Beach Restaurant Association.

To attend the Virtual Hospitality and Culinary Job Fair, complete the registration form here.

When your registration is complete, you will receive the Zoom link to join your selected session. You must be registered to attend. TCC Alumni and community members can register as guests.

To view a listing of employers, visit the TCC Career Success Network.

The virtual event is open to students, alumni and the community.

For questions, email Babi Brock or Shauna Woods-Springer.

Student chefs cooking up success at home

Tidewater Community College’s student chefs are cooking in their own kitchens to make the grade.

TCC staffers bought and packed the ingredients students would need to continue their studies at home. The next day, students picked up their supplies in a “drive-by” format while practicing social distancing and staying outside of college buildings.

Chef Amie Burns packing food for students to use with remote learning.

“We chose ingredients and recipes that would work well in a home setting but still emphasize the skills and techniques needed for each course,” explained Deanna Freridge, who is teaching  American Regional Cuisine this semester.

Students picked up their ingredients maintaining social distancing and staying outside college buildings.

TCC chefs Freridge, Carolyn Blackmon and Amie Burns recorded their labs, including a demo on how to prepare your kitchen for home learning. During the first few days, their goodies included cranberry orange scones, cream of broccoli soup and potato and onion knish.

All of the demos are available in Canvas, the college’s learning platform, and on YouTube. Additionally, lectures are offered via Zoom video chat.

 “So far there are no hiccups in the road,” said student chef Valerie DeFreitas. “I’m pleased with how things are going. We received our products in a timely fashion and are now cooking and learning as usual.”

Students receive a checklist of the skills they need to learn for each lab, and then record videos showing themselves completing each recipe. The final step is to upload their videos to Canvas so they earn credit for their work.

Burns encourages students to keep the videos candid. “We just want to see your technique. With limited food supplies, we don’t expect a bunch of different takes. Don’t worry if the dog barks or your kid pops in. Just keep rolling with it,” she said.

All of the Spring Semester courses are underway in a remote format, including Principles of Culinary Arts, Principles of Baking and the advanced American Regional Cuisine. Other non-lab classes being taught are Food and Beverage Cost Control, Labor Cost Control and Beverage Management.

“With cooking I get the vibe that you have to work with what you have,” said student chef Melissa Coleman. “And while we might not have the same equipment at home, we can make it work and learn to improvise. In the long run, these are important skills to have.”

“We are really glad to have all of this technology so we can keep our students going,” Freridge said. “We’re finding that they are all willing and excited to be cooking remotely.”

Remote learning with the culinary program also allows student chefs to provide food for their families during a challenging time.

“We are grateful to be able to help ease the pinch many are feeling during this time,” added Nancy Prather-Johnson, dean of Business. “Providing meals for families is a nice plus to all of this.”

WTKR’s Margaret Kavanagh talked with TCC students and chefs about remote learning in their home kitchens. See more at WTKR-TV.

TCC receives grant from TowneBank that will benefit visual, culinary, hospitality and automotive program expansion

The Tidewater Community College Educational Foundation is a recipient of a $500,000 grant from TowneBank. The funds will support the development of the TCC Perry Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management and the expansion of the Regional Automotive Center (RAC).

The 47,000-square-foot TCC Perry Center will be located in the NEON District at the former site of the Greyhound bus station at Brambleton and Monticello avenues. It will expand TCC’s visual arts education program and train the next generation of chefs by expanding the college’s culinary arts program, including housing a program in restaurant management in Norfolk.

“For 20 years TowneBank has been a gold standard for what a true community leader should strive to be, investing in a wide range of organizations that have helped grow our region’s economy and enhance cultural opportunities,” said TCC President Gregory DeCinque.  “We are honored by TowneBank’s incredibly generous gift to TCC and are humbled by their confidence as we work together to build the next generation in the workforce and educational training opportunities for our local community.”

TCC also recently received a grant of $500,000 over the next five years from the Hampton Roads Community Foundation in support of the new building slated to open in the fall of 2021.

The TowneBank grant will be used to provide challenge grant funds to encourage area automobile dealers to help build the expansion of the RAC, Hampton Roads’ lone high-tech education facility for the automotive, marine and diesel industries.

“Since 1968, Tidewater Community College has been a vital part of the Hampton Roads community. TowneBank is honored to support TCC in its ongoing efforts to provide quality education. We are excited to be a part of TCC’s bright future,” said Morgan Davis, TowneBank president and CEO.

The expansion of the TCC Perry Center and the RAC will largely be funded through private donations raised through Go Further! TCC’s Campaign for a Competitive Workforce. For information about donating, contact Steven Jones, executive director of the TCC Educational Foundation, at

TCC announces major gift for new center coming to the NEON District

Tidewater Community College is the recipient of a  seven-figure donation to support the building of the Patricia & Douglas Perry TCC Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.

President DeCinque announces the naming of the Houston “Hu” Odom Jr. School of Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management.
President DeCinque announces the naming of the Houston “Hu” Odom Jr. School of Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management.

President Gregory DeCinque announced the gift from Houston “Hu” Odom, president and founder of BOTH, Inc., a franchisee of Golden Corral Restaurants, at a news conference Tuesday morning at the TCC Pat & Doug Perry Glass Wheel Studio.  In recognition of his generosity, the college will name its school of Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management for Odom.

Odom’s gift will also be used to provide scholarships for dual enrollment students from Norfolk Public Schools studying restaurant management.

“By creating a pipeline of skilled and trained professional restaurant managers, we are ensuring quality service in our area restaurants for years to come,” said Odom, an award-winning restaurateur, who operates 20 Golden Corrals, plus two in development, with headquarters in Virginia Beach and locations throughout four states. “Partnering with TCC makes good business sense but is also great for our community.

“Very simply, TCC’s new School of Culinary Arts and Restaurant Management is the right idea at the right place at the right time. When my wife, Evie, and I heard about TCC’s plans, we agreed we wanted to become involved to help make those plans become a reality.”

President DeCinque said, “We share a vision to see the next generation of artists, culinary specialists and hospitality managers excel in their work. This is indeed a transformative time for TCC, made possible with partnerships with the City of Norfolk, the Perrys and now our newest benefactor, Mr. Odom.”

The TCC Perry Center, slated to open in 2021, will be a 47,000-square-foot building, located on the site of the former Greyhound bus station. In addition to housing TCC’s academic programs, it will offer dual-enrollment and workforce-training opportunities for area residents.

The center will further energize the NEON District by:

  • Expanding TCC’s one-of-a-kind visual arts education program
  • Training the next generation of chefs with a comprehensive culinary arts program
  • Creating opportunities for collaboration between culinary and visual arts programs
  • Providing five kitchens and a test kitchen open to the community and prospective entrepreneurs
  • Inaugurating a hospitality and restaurant management program in Norfolk
  • Creating a vibrant and inviting dining and arts experience for students, residents and visitors
Mayor Alexander with Evie Odom.
Mayor Alexander with Evie Odom.

“TCC’s new Perry Center is a major economic boost to the growth and expansion of the NEON District as a destination for the arts. For that reason, I am very grateful for Mr. Odom’s support,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Alexander.

Odom’s restaurants consistently hold sales and customer satisfaction rankings in the top tier of the Golden Corral system. In 2001, Golden Corral Corporation adopted his idea of Military Appreciation Night, which serves free steak dinners to all current and former service personnel while raising money for the Disabled American Veterans. Odom first implemented the idea in Hampton Roads in 1999.

Odom is also passionate about giving low-income and disadvantaged students access to education in culinary arts and restaurant management. “A significant portion of my donation to TCC will be used to endow scholarships and other programs to help ensure access to TCC’s new school for students here in Norfolk and in other local communities,” he said.

His gift will benefit dual enrollment students in Norfolk. Dual enrollment allows qualifying high school students to jump-start their college careers by earning college credit.

Hu Odom at the press event on Dec. 18.
Hu Odom at the press event on Dec. 18.

“We are delighted to be able to offer this new career training to our high school students to prepare them well for the workforce,” said Noëlle Gabriel, chair of the Norfolk School Board.

Construction of the Perry Center will be funded entirely by private donations raised through Go Further! TCC’s Campaign for a Competitive Workforce. For more information about the campaign, contact Steven Jones at or call 757-822-1572.

For information about the college’s visual arts, culinary arts and hospitality management programs, contact the enrollment team at

Lifelong cook perfected her craft at TCC

Growing up while her cousins played in the back yard, Tasha Roberts cooked in the kitchen with her mother and grandmothers.

Now she’s a professional chef and graduate of Tidewater Community College’s Culinary Arts program.

“We always had big Sunday dinners and holiday gatherings,” Roberts said. “By the time I got into high school, I was creating specialty sandwiches and other snacks for my friends. They would rave about everything.”

After high school, Roberts put her love of cooking on the back burner to study nursing. But it didn’t take long for her to end up back in the kitchen. “When I got to my phlebotomy class, I really started rethinking everything. I left school and ended up tending bar to pay bills,” she said. “And every shift, when I should have been behind the bar, my boss would find me in the kitchen talking with the chefs.”

Roberts worked in plenty of restaurants as a host, server and manager. That experience finally gave her the motivation to try culinary school.

Roberts looked into several for-profit schools before selecting TCC’s program, which is accredited by the American Culinary Federation.  She enrolled in 2012 and spent the next three years studying for her Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts, which she earned in 2015. She completed her bachelor’s in business from Old Dominion University in 2017.

Roberts recalls being totally unprepared for culinary school, even though she came to that first class with a swagger.

“I found out that I didn’t even know how to boil an egg properly,” she said with a laugh. “The program definitely prepares you for the fast-paced world of culinary arts.”

Roberts’ favorite class was “Garde Manger” under chef Deanna Freridge because of the difficult recipes and the various sauces she learned to prepare. She also enjoyed the end-of-semester banquet where students showcased their special dishes.

Baking challenged her the most.  “There was a moment in this class when I had to decide if this was what I was going to do. Was I going to follow the recipe and execute it properly, or was I going to give up?”

Tasha RobertsRoberts completed her externship hours in the Norfolk Student Center Café. After graduation, she worked as a chef at Founders Inn. She later served as executive chef at Jewish Community Center in Virginia Beach.

Today, Roberts owns and operates Bonjou, a catering, private chef and pop-up food kiosk featuring her speciality, Cajun-Creole food. She serves up healthy portions of Southern favorites from gumbo to jambalaya to shrimp boils and more. She also works under chef Jacoby Ponder in the Norfolk Kitchen Lab.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing now; I’m finally where I belong,” she said. “While my business is thriving, I still have my eye on a food truck in the future.”

Roberts encourages aspiring chefs to pay attention in every class. “You’re going to need both the basics and advanced skills you’ll hone in the program. And get into the kitchen and shadow some chefs. Be sure this really is your passion, because that’s what will make the difference when you go to perfect your craft.”

Roberts’ favorite time of year is Thanksgiving. She shares some of her prized recipes below.

Cajun Fried Turkey

¼ cup roasted garlic (put in a blender and liquefy)
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
½ pound butter
10 ounces Abita amber beer (or any dark beer)
1 tablespoon Louisiana hot sauce
10-12 pound turkey
2½  gallons peanut oil

Over low heat, combine all of the marinade ingredients (roasted garlic, white pepper, cayenne pepper, butter, beer, hot sauce) in a 2-quart sauté pan. Simmer just enough to melt the butter and dissolve the seasonings. Cool.

Remove all of the giblets from the turkey. Use a chef’s syringe and inject the turkey throughout with the marinade. (Use about 8 ounces; all of the marinade does not need to be used.)  

 Refrigerate and allow the turkey to marinade for 4 -6 hours or even overnight.

**** NOTE: Only do this outside on concrete with plenty of ventilation
In a 30-quart (tall not squat) stock pot and a propane burner, with a good regulator, bring the peanut oil to 325F. Use the stainless steel basket to hold the turkey OR use only 100 percent cotton twine to tie the legs of the turkey and lower the turkey VERY slowly into the oil. Ensure that the oil does not bubble over the sides of the pot. If it does, remove the turkey immediately and turn off the burner before a grease fire erupts.

Fry the turkey for 3 ½ to 4 minutes per pound. (That’s about 35 to 40 minutes for a 10-pound bird!)

Macaroni and Cheese Pie


2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 cup uncooked elbow macaroni
4 eggs
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
2¼  cups milk
½  cup biscuit baking mix
¼  teaspoon salt
¼  teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9-inch deep dish pie plate.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine 1½ cups cheese and macaroni; sprinkle into pie plate.

Place remaining ingredients minus remaining ¼ cup cheese in a blender jar. Blend until smooth, about 15 seconds on high speed (or 1 minute in a large bowl with a hand mixer).

Pour into pie plate. Bake about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup cheese. Bake an additional 1 to 2 minutes, until cheese is melted.

Cool 10 minutes then cut into wedges.

Candied Sweet Potatoes with Rum Sauce


8 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/8 pieces
3 cups light brown sugar
1 cup water
1 cup fresh orange juice
1½ teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup rum
1 stick butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large, heavy pot, combine potatoes, sugar, water, orange juice, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon and salt.

Bring to a simmer over high heat. Lower heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.

Strain the potatoes out of the sauce and place in a casserole dish.

Return the sauce to the pan. Add the rum to the sauce and continue to cook until syrup is thickened, about 15 minutes. Pour the syrup over the potatoes.

Add the pieces of butter and the marshmallows (as many as you like).

Place in the oven. Bake until the marshmallows are browned, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and serve immediately.

Pecan Pie Bread Pudding


8 cups bite-sized bread pieces
3 large eggs
1¼ cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon maple or vanilla extract
½  teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup pecans, halved or chopped


Prepare an 8×8 or 9×9 baking dish by lining it with parchment paper and spraying well with a nonstick cooking spray.

Place all of the bread pieces into the baking dish.

Pour the melted butter over the bread.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, corn syrup, brown sugar, granulated sugar, maple or vanilla extract, cinnamon and salt.

Stir in pecans. Pour evenly over the bread pieces. Use a rubber spatula to push and “prod” the bread pieces around in the dish until all are coated in the syrupy mixture.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Serve warm with a dollop of whipped cream!

TCC Alumni: Connect, Contribute, Celebrate

Norfolk City Council approves purchase agreement with TCC for Greyhound property

The City of Norfolk took another step Tuesday toward establishing the NEON District as a premier destination when City Council approved Tidewater Community College’s acquisition of the Greyhound station site at 701 Monticello Ave.

The council approved an ordinance authorizing City Manager Doug Smith to complete the purchase agreement with the TCC Real Estate Foundation.

“Norfolk is building a global reputation as a destination for the arts,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenneth Cooper Alexander. “This joint venture between the City of Norfolk and Tidewater Community College will bring new opportunities to thousands of students and visitors, while establishing the NEON District as Hampton Roads’ premier area for creative professionals.”

The TCC Real Estate Foundation’s acquisition will allow for an expansion of the downtown Norfolk Campus and the development of the Patricia and Douglas Perry TCC Center for Visual & Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management.

The city will relocate the current Greyhound operation to the Downtown Norfolk Transit Station.

“It is fair to say that the construction of TCC’s Norfolk Campus in the ‘90s brought new energy to downtown,” TCC President Edna V. Baehre-Kolovani said. “And now history will be repeating itself. We are proud to partner with Mayor Alexander and the City of Norfolk to light up the NEON District with this project. As one of the anchors in the NEON District, we will be creating a destination not only for students, but for visitors as well.”

“Through a generous gift from Patricia and Douglas Perry, this new center for visual and culinary arts will not only create new workforce and dual enrollment opportunities for students throughout the region, but will also become a prime dining destination for visitors and tourists,” Mayor Alexander said.

In addition, the Perrys are gifting their Glass Wheel Studio to the college. TCC plans to locate its public gallery and studio arts programs there, while creating vibrant new partnerships with the Chrysler Museum, the Perry Glass Studio, Old Dominion University and Norfolk State University.

Mayor Alexander said the new TCC centers will create opportunities not only for students, but also for Norfolk residents through workforce and dual enrollment programs.

The Perry Center will:

Allow the expansion of TCC’s visual arts programs to include fiber arts, jewelry and papermaking, among others.

Expand TCC’s nationally accredited culinary arts program from two kitchens currently to five, tripling enrollment and offering opportunities for public cooking classes and new programs.

Create a student-run restaurant on which culinary and visual arts students will collaborate.

And become the home of a new Restaurant Management program being introduced by TCC this fall.

“This offers a unique opportunity for the next generation of hospitality professionals in what is a fast-growing segment of Norfolk’s economy,” Mayor Alexander said. “Our employers will welcome this program.”

TCC opened its Norfolk Campus in 1997, thanks to a substantial contribution from the City of Norfolk and start-up funding allocated by the General Assembly. It brought new life to former stores like F.W. Woolworth and Smith & Welton, and transformed the old Loew’s theater into the TCC Roper Center for the Performing Arts.

Make your child’s summer count with TCC’s fun and educational camps

Are you looking for summer fun with a purpose for your kids? Check out Tidewater Community College’s summer camps with offerings for budding scientists, engineers, artists, chefs, interior designers, computer wizards and more.

Spark your child’s imagination with interactive and fun programs tailored to their interests and grade levels.

Students learn to make paninis at the Norfolk Campus.
Students learn to make paninis at the Norfolk Campus.

TCC’s week-long programs are affordable and conveniently located on the Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach campuses, and at the Center for Workforce Solutions in Suffolk. Limited enrollment size ensures students receive personalized attention. In addition, every camper will receive a free career interest assessment using the Virginia Wizard!

TCC’s has more than 50 camps geared for rising 3rd to 12th graders. For a complete listing, visit

Registration is now open. For information, contact Emily Richardson at 757-822-1505 or