For Chef Scottie Johnson, a Helms College graduate and owner of a private chef services business in Warner Robins, Georgia, a military career was only the beginning of a lifetime of service.
He grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and received an Associate’s Degree in Mechanical Drafting and Design after high school.Then he entered the Army as a Field Artillery cannon crew member, and after a 24-year career including 4 deployments to combat zones, he retired as a First Sergeant. Ten days later, he enrolled in culinary classes at Helms College’s Polly Long Denton School of Hospitality.
Johnson firmly believes having a vision is the key to moving forward, and was ready to use his GI Bill to develop that vision at Helms. “I knew I needed to dedicate myself to something new,” he said. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking at home with my family and watching cooking shows on TV, so culinary school was a natural fit for me.”
Chef Johnson says he chose the culinary arts program at Helms because of its facilities—like Edgar’s Bistro, the Macon-area restaurant where students receive practical, hands-on learning opportunities—and the dedicated professionals who lead classes.
“The chef instructors at Helms are amazing. They taught me to love cooking and serving people, and really made sure I understood the course material,” Johnson said. “I learned business skills as well. After that, it was up to me to stay committed and challenge myself in each class to become great at what I do.”
He made the President’s List while at Helms and returned to share knowledge with future graduates as a teaching assistant. A dedicated family man, Johnson now balances running his own business with married life and being a father to his four children. He says that family, faith, prayer and having a purpose in life are what keep him going.
“I’ve been blessed by God with this gift of cooking,” Johnson said. “Knowing I received a great education and making it work for me is definitely a blessing too!”
In the kitchen, Chef Johnson has a passion for creativity, exploring flavors and creating new twists on traditional family dishes. His favorites involve seafood, especially lobster tail. He showcases his skills in events from private catering and wine dinners to cooking classes.
He says he will continue to develop his business and further his culinary career using the tools for success he gained at Helms, and plans to mentor others to help them achieve anything in life they choose.
“Without a vision for your life, you can’t grow,” Johnson said. “I had a vision of becoming a chef—and Helms College set me up to succeed in the culinary world. It can do the same for you. I’m proud to call myself a Helms College Alumnus.”
Where will your vision take you? Explore the Culinary Arts Diploma and Associate in Applied Science programs at Helms College to get started in a career as an executive chef, restaurant manager and more. Contact us today for more information or to apply.