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Alumni Spotlight: Cooking up Success with Brandon Woodall '11

Brandon Woodall ’11 entered the Saint Martin community at just 13 years old. As a lifelong Cleveland community member, Brandon began his time at Saint Martin knowing that he would leave prepared for college. What he did not imagine is that he would one day be an Executive Chef, and teach others how to cook at Lorain Community College. Now, as the creator of Valerie’s Kitchen and Catering, Brandon is cooking for his community, and building his career.

Brandon’s passion for cooking stemmed from his aunt, Valerie, whom he named his business after. He reflects on his cooking journey fondly, remembering cooking as a young boy and the skills he learned from his aunt. He initially attended the University of Toledo and then a college in Wisconsin until his love for cooking inspired Brandon to enter Culinary School at Lorain County Community College (LCCC) in 2020. His success was quickly noticed as he was named a 2022 Dream Scholar by Achieving the Dream, a nonprofit focused on promoting student success and equity. Brandon is only one of eight students in the U.S. to receive the award dedicated to community college students and designed to enhance leadership, critical thinking, and networking skills. He is set to graduate with his associate degree in hospitality and tourism management - culinary arts this spring.

In addition to crediting his aunt in his journey to success, Brandon thanks Saint Martin for preparing him for the real world. He shares the gratitude he has for having been exposed to the real world at that early age through the work study program. He notes, “My work study experience helped me to see the challenges of the real world which prepared me for my career today. Even little things such as getting up early to get a ride, walking into an office, and being responsible for completing work tasks… it gave me a glimpse into the professional world and an experience that I still draw from to this day.”

In fact, this hands-on Corporate Work Study experience mirrors Brandon’s typical work day as a chef. Brandon purchases, cleans, and prepares all of the ingredients and food, and personally sets the table and environment for his clients to ensure a positive dining experience. Everything that Brandon does in his day-to-day work environment is with passion and care, as he is involved in every step of the process. His hard work has not only made an impact on his own life, but on his community as well. Brandon has helped prepare hundreds of Thanksgiving meals with the LCCC culinary program that were donated to those in need as well as providing healthy meals to the LCCC men’s basketball team. He even cooks for Cleveland Browns football players, and relates his ability to cook for them after watching them play football years ago as a full circle moment.

While Brandon has experienced many full circle moments throughout his career, he has never forgotten Saint Martin. He shared how proud he is that his alma mater has a 100% college acceptance rate, and that Saint Martin encourages students to reach their full potential.

In the next 5-10 years, Brandon hopes to expand his catering business, and hopefully relocate to North Carolina. However, he hopes to have catering locations in Cleveland simultaneously, as this community holds a special place in his heart.

When 13-year-old Brandon Woodall first walked through the doors of Saint Martin, he may not have expected to be taking his first steps on a journey that led him to hold an Executive Chef position in his very own business, however, he knew he was embarking on an amazing journey with a school that supported him no matter what path he decided to take.








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