Student Chef Raises $6,000 for a Local Organization

Student Chef Raises $6,000 for a Local Organization

After his nearly 50 dinner guests had finished their farm-to-table gourmet meal of apple and fennel salad with sourdough crostini and poached branzino with couscous and pickled fennel, Center for Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEL) student and chef Cole Benner ’24 thanked them for coming—and for caring. 

“Sometimes it feels hard to be taken seriously as a person with such a specific passion at such a young age. In a largely academic and athletic generation, it feels hard to stand out as someone who cares and is career-focused on something that seems more like a hobby,” said Benner before bringing out the “last bite” of the evening: olive oil cake with fennel confit glacée.

Benner's Clean Plate Night was the culmination of three years of work in CEL and months of dedicated planning through his senior project with the SCH Development Office. He conceived of the fundraiser, then set about to make it a reality—planning every detail and aspect of the meal with the SCH kitchen team, carefully testing each recipe, and selecting the best plating presentation. Ultimately he raised $6,000 for Face to Face Germantown, a Philadelphia organization that provides fresh hot meals, along with legal, health, and social services to those in need.

Although the young chef was no stranger to big ideas and fine cooking, having opened The Brooksville Dinner Club in coastal Maine last summer, this fundraiser was different. It showcased his skills to the SCH community and benefited an important cause in the wider region.

“In our school, entrepreneurship is about bringing dynamic, problem-solving ideas to life,” said CEL Director Ed Glassman. “And I think Cole represents that in a beautiful way.”

Reflecting on the entire experience, Benner said this project and the CEL were exactly what he needed as a student with a unique passion. “When I started this project, I had one thing in mind: I wanted to do something big, something that someone my age had never done before,” said Benner. “Whether it was the people I connected with, the skills I learned, or the failures I made, this is the most valuable thing I’ve ever done.”

Watch his entire speech here.

Cole Benner Check to Face to Face


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