Herb Guild awards scholarships

Scholarship recipients Katarina Liska and Antonio Zodda, pictured with Herb Guild President Gail Morse, left, and scholarship committee chair Mary Kay Filipiak, were honored at the guild's Aug. 6 luncheon at Wagner's of Westlake. Photo by Tara Wendell

The Herb Guild Garden Club held their 30th annual scholarship luncheon on Aug. 6 celebrating "The Magical World of Herbs." The beautiful table decorations mirrored this magical theme of herbs, as did the boutique shop with its array of delicious herbal dips, mixes, vinegars and herbal bakery items.

Wagner's of Westlake put on its best appearance while luncheon guests, scholarship honorees and their family members, Herb Guild members, and guest fashion show models were all dressed in their lovely summer attire, with some guests arriving in style in a limousine. The main hall, the podium and entrance table decorations, and guests' lovely attire were reminiscent of a beautiful Monet painting.

Mary Kay Filipiak, chairwoman of the organization's scholarship committee, awarded $1,300 scholarships to two of our area's college-bound students. Katarina Liska, a graduate of Strongsville High and Polaris Career Center's chef program, was part of National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society, Key Club, Student Council and a Dare Role Model.

While at Polaris Katarina was named Junior and Senior Outstanding Program Student and a member of the National Technical Honor Society and Polaris Ambassador program. In 2013 she was a member of the Polaris Career Center Pro Start Culinary Competition Team as that placed first in the state of Ohio and eighth in national competition. In 2014 she led the Pro Start Culinary Competition Team as their captain to a first-place finish in Ohio and a fourth-place finish at the national competition. She also was named 2014 Ohio Pro Start Top Poultry Fabricator. Katarina works at Chop Bistro and Bar in Ohio City as an assistant to the pastry chef and a line cook to round out her busy schedule. Katarina will attend Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, N.C., where she will pursue a bachelor's degree in culinary arts and restaurant management. She said "she will embrace the culture of the South and make the most of their restaurant culture in their bustling Uptown district." The Herb Guild will be anxiously awaiting news of Katrina's culinary successes.

The second scholarship recipient, Antonio Zodda, was born and raised in Cleveland and graduated this spring from St. Ignatius High School. Since early childhood he has had an interest in growing food and learning about the processes. While a youngster he spent his summers on his grandparents' farm where two generations of the family taught him what would be the foundation of his knowledge of gardening today.

He and his immediate family have participated in a large plot of community garden in Cleveland area for the past six years. When Antonio entered high school he searched for a way to continue doing what he loved, as well as offer that passion to the whole school community. While at St. Ignatius, with the help of two of his teachers, a student organization was developed centered around growing food through hands-on experience and education. The club has grown to 14 raised beds where they grow vegetables, fruits and herbs. 

A bee-keeping aspect is now included and Antonio knows it will continue to grow as he goes off to attend The Ohio State University where he plans on pursuing a major in agriculture and environmental science. Antonio finished his scholarship acceptance speech by remarking that he and Katarina could possibly collaborate on a business venture in the future when their educational pursuits are completed, given their love of the food-making process. The Herb Guild cannot wait to see if this pans out ... what a win-win situation. We will be the first in line at Antonio's food coop venture. 

The Herb Guild wishes both delightful and talented scholarship recipients much success now and in the future.

The scholarship luncheon is The Herb Guild Garden Club's primary fundraising event for continuing to be able to award scholarships to area graduating high school students. All the dedicated efforts of our members and the generosity of our guests make this project possible through the sale of luncheon tickets, silent auction and gift basket raffle, and sales of the guild's 2013 cookbook, "Thyme & Again." For more information about the guild please visit theherbguild.org.

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Volume 6, Issue 17, Posted 9:47 AM, 08.19.2014