The Fast-Growing Culinary Industry: Opportunities and Success Stories at VGCC

December 10, 2023 0 Comments

VGCC Culinary Program

The culinary industry is one of the fastest growing careers locally and across the country. Chef Ross Ragonese, VGCC’s program head for the culinary arts, says there are plenty of opportunities in restaurants, hotels, catering operations, schools and health care facilities.

Taking part in a national competition is impressive enough, but doing so with a team from your community college is an amazing achievement. Dustin Gregory of Oxford was just such a student, representing not only VGCC but the state in the SkillsUSA national contest.

Career Opportunities

The people in your area are hungry for the best food around, and restaurants, hotels, resorts, clubs, catering operations, contract foodservice and health care facilities all want trained culinary professionals to prepare their menu items. WWCC’s Culinary Arts program will give you the skills, practical experience and industry know-how you need to become one of those professionals.

The Electrical Technology program is accredited by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, and graduates are eligible to take State exams to become a certified Electrical Inspector. Students attending as residents of other states should check with their state’s licensing department for specific information.

VGCC student Dustin Gregory of Oxford won a national SkillsUSA competition this summer, the first-ever from our program to do so. Watch his story in the video below. He is just one of many success stories that can be yours with an associate degree from VGCC.


The Culinary Arts program provides students with the necessary skills for working in a variety of professional food service operations. Graduates can find positions in full service restaurants, hotels, resorts, clubs, catering operations and contract foodservice operations. Coursework includes theoretical knowledge/practical applications and basic cooking and baking techniques as well as advanced patisserie and bread making, American regional cuisine, international cuisine, and culinary management. The degree is transferable to most four-year institutions and satisfies the requirements of the American Culinary Federation.

Last spring, VGCC student Dustin Gregory of Oxford became the first culinary student in the state to compete in a national SkillsUSA culinary competition. He credits his success to the support he received from his instructors at VGCC and US Foods. Currently, Gregory works on his family’s farm in Rolesville where he raises cattle, pigs and chickens to help feed his family and neighbors. He hopes to someday have his own restaurant that utilizes all parts of the animals, so that nothing goes to waste.


The culinary arts program offers a 600-hour externship, which provides hands-on training in fine restaurants and hotels. Students work with professional chefs, learn food preparation techniques, nutrition and purchasing procedures. Culinary skills include classical cooking including knife cuts, soups and stocks, basic baking techniques, international cuisine, and restaurant management and service. The program follows the teaching philosophy of the American Culinary Federation.

Dustin Gregory, a culinary arts student from Oxford, recently represented VGCC at the SkillsUSA national leadership and skills competition in Louisville, Kentucky. He is the first VGCC student to compete in this national competition, which is open to all students in all states who qualify. He credits his success to the support of his family, instructors and fellow students at VGCC. He is currently working at the prestigious Capital Grille in Richmond. His dream is to one day own his own restaurant. He will be attending the University of Virginia this fall to pursue his bachelor’s degree.


VGCC students have a lot of choices when it comes to their education. The College offers a variety of degrees, certificates and continuing education courses. Students are responsible for making sure that they are familiar with the requirements of the program in which they are enrolled, and for meeting all graduation requirements. Academic advisors are available to assist students, but the ultimate responsibility for graduating lies with the student.

The Culinary Arts associate degree program provides a comprehensive two-year curriculum of culinary training for professional careers in fine restaurants and hotels. The degree prepares students for jobs as cooks, bakers, and food service managers. The program also trains culinary professionals in catering operations and contract foodservice. The Culinary Arts Institute is fully equipped with elegant dining rooms and modern instructional kitchens.

Redirect to the main interface