Nashville State Culinary Arts Student Finds Opportunity in Paid Apprenticeship


Opportunity is a game-changer in the course of life.

Long Island, New York native Kate Saggio saw an opportunity offered by Nashville State Community College and jumped on it.

The College has an active Culinary Arts program located at its Southeast campus in Antioch, which for years has trained professionals. Both programs offer a two-year Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree, technical certificates that can be earned in a year, and multiple apprenticeships.

The federally registered American Culinary Federation apprenticeships allow students to get paid, work, and network in a professional setting while earning a degree or certificate.

Kate is earning her Culinary Arts A.A.S, while also apprenticing at the Grand Hyatt in downtown Nashville.

“I want to be the best at what I do,” said Saggio, who worked in the restaurant and catering business for six years before moving to Nashville.

Dina Starks, Nashville State’s culinary and hospitality apprenticeship consultant, a longtime professional in the industry, worked with Executive Chef Brian Owenby at the Grand Hyatt to place Kate.

“Students who want to enter the culinary arts and hospitality industry can earn and learn,” said Starks. “Pay and incentives have increased, and with Nashville’s population growth, hot tourism industry, and the high demand for skilled professionals, now is the time to invest in yourself.”

National Culinary Arts Competition

Kate will be one of 24 culinary arts students from around the country competing for the American Culinary Federation’s National Student Chef of the Year. The competition is from August 2 to 5 in Orlando, Florida.

At the College’s state-of-the-art kitchen, for the past couple of months, Saggio, under the mentorship of Starks and Nashville State’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program Director Chef Paul Brennan, a World Chefs Association World Certified Master Chef, has been honing her game plan and refining her meal and plating.

She plans on cooking and presenting a traditional Italian meal with a modern twist. Chef Brennan will be traveling and offering day-of mentorship and encouragement.

Nashville's Booming Culinary and Hospitality Industry

According to the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp., Nashville’s tourism industry has been roaring back and prior to the pandemic had 16.1 million visitors to the city. Hospitality is Nashville’s second-largest industry with paychecks equaling $1.9 billion in 2019.

The hospitality industry will continue to grow and place even more pressure on the need for trained professionals. Thirty-four hotel properties opened in 2019, 2020, and 2021. More than 115 new restaurants have opened their doors since the beginning of 2020. Five hotels are currently under construction.

Nashville State's Kate Saggio
Kate Saggio is a student at The Randy Rayburn School of Culinary Art at Nashville State.

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