Wayne Smith, Lead Chef for Edesia: A Culinary, Wine & Spirits Adventure, promises that guests will enjoy a feast “Fit for the Gods.” With the Greek mythology elements of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire as a theme, Smith and his colleagues are keeping menu details under wraps until their big tableside reveal at the event on April 2 at Wine Country Inn.

On Smith’s team are Jonathan St. Peter, Elizabeth Branscum and Deb Henderson, Chef/Instructors in the Culinary Arts Department of Western Colorado Community College, a division of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction.   Jenne Baldwin-Eaton, who joined the department last fall to instruct in Viticulture and Enology, will pour selectively paired wines and offer insights about their characteristics.

Smith explains that he aims to create a unique culinary experience that will put guests in touch with the creation of the dishes they are tasting.   Some of the dishes will incorporate products from Spirits Sponsor Jack Daniel’s.   The Chef’s Table luncheon starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 1 p.m.

“We are especially happy to shine a light on WCCC’s Culinary Arts program,” says WCI Chef David Kassera. “The public may not be familiar with the quality of training these talented Chef/Instructors provide for students who will staff our restaurants and institutions.”

He also emphasizes that the new WCCC Viticulture and Enology instruction is the only publicly-supported program available in Colorado. “For our local wine industry, that’s a major asset, ” he adds.

The WCCC chefs also will present culinary demonstrations for the main event, which runs from 2 to 5 pm., in the Vitner’s House at 1:30, 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.

Edesia will showcase Jack Daniel’s and Colorado wines, beers and spirits as well as food from local restaurants and caterers. This is the seventh year Wine Country Inn has sponsored the fund-raiser for Marillac, which serves uninsured, under-insured and other patients who “fall through the cracks” with conventional medical coverage.

Tickets for the Chef’s Table VIP luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. cost $125 each, while tickets for the main Edesia event from 2 to 4 pm cost $65 each.   Both can be purchased at Wine Country Inn or at a secure PayPal link online at www.edesiapalisade.com.

Edesia is presented by Alpine Bank with Jack Daniel’s Family of Fine Whiskeys and St. Mary’s Medical Center. Media sponsors are KKCO 11 News, the Business Times, Magic 93.1. The Vault 100.7, Eagle River Associates and Suzi Productions.

Other sponsors include FCI Constructors, Peczuh Printing, Shamrock Foods, Absolute Prestige Limo Service, Shaw Construction, Country Elegance Florist, Event Productions, White Water Building Materials, Mark & Cathy Green, Oakley-Wanebo-Love, Rocky Mountain Health Plans, Dalby-Wendland & CO, Dasani/Swire/Coca Cola USA, Office Outfitters, Farmer Brothers Coffee, Your Sign Company, Hoskin.Farina.Kampf, Your Way Safey & Sign Supply, 72 Degrees, Town of Palisade, Palisade Chamber of Commerce, Reddy Ice and Wine Country Inn.

Chef/Instructor Wayne Smith, CEC CCE

Assistant Technical Professor of Culinary Arts

Chef Wayne Smith has been instructing students since the Culinary Arts program began at Western Colorado Community College, a division of Colorado Mesa University, in 1998.

With 30 years of culinary experience, including stints at major resort venues in Colorado, Hawaii and California and running his own restaurant, he is uniquely qualified to impart knowledge to aspiring chefs. Specifically, he teaches Culinary Program Fundamentals, Introduction to Foods, Center of the Plate, International Cuisine, Advanced Garde Manger and Hors D’Oeuvre and Fundamentals of Healthy Cooking.

His courses offer students a hands-on opportunity to apply their leaning to the production of a wide variety of foods as well the science of cooking. His goal is to motivate students to be deeply curious about cooking to the point they forget they are earning a grade.

With other faculty members in the program, he has coached student teams in culinary competitions, where they have earned success on regional and national levels.

Smith’s culinary interests are varied and include international cuisines, fermented foods, and culinary medicine. Currently, he is studying the sciences to gain a better understanding of how food “works.”

A graduate of Colorado Mesa’s Culinary Arts program, Smith has served in leadership roles both at the University and with professional groups. He is recipient of numerous culinary awards, and twice has been named Outstanding Educator by the Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce. Smith is a certified executive chef and certified culinary educator through the American Culinary Federation.

No stranger to public service, Smith has donated his time and skills to help numerous charitable causes over his long career.

Chef/Instructor Jon St. Peter, CEC

Assistant Technical Professor of Culinary Arts

Chef Jon St. Peter has a special rapport with his students for good reason. His first experience with a culinary program was in high school and he was exposed to his first competition as an assistant at Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI.

Chef Jon is Assistant Technical Professor in the Culinary Arts Department at Western Colorado Community College, where he teaches Culinary Program Fundamentals, Advanced Line Prep and Cookery and Techniques of Culinary Competition. Most of his experience has been in white tablecloth dining, culinary competition and culinary education.

St. Peter currently works with students in the operation of Chez Lena, WCCC’s lab restaurant, and a new course addition in culinary competition. He loves to work side by side with his students immersed in the hands-on operation of taking orders, then preparing and delivering food to patrons.

With heavy emphasis on critical thinking skills and excellent execution of culinary technique, St. Peter tries to create a high-caliber environment and invites students to step up to the plate and cultivate their skills through trial, error and reiteration. He finds the potential for creativity employing all senses deeply satisfying.

“All I’ve ever done professionally has been related to the food service industry. Frankly, I don’t really care to do anything else,” he admits.

St. Peter has earned an impressive number of professional medals and accolades, including being named Colorado Chef of the Year by the American Culinary Federation Colorado Chefs Assn. in 2012.

St. Peter received his associate degree in culinary arts from Colorado Mountain College in Keystone, CO, with an Associate degree in applied science and Culinarian Certification through the American Culinary Federation.

With his wife and three sons, he enjoys rock climbing, telemark skiing, back packing, elk hunting, camping and gardening.

Chef/Instructor Elizabeth Branscum

Technical Instructor of Culinary Arts

Chef Elizabeth Branscum, aka “Chef Beth,” is the face of the WCCC Culinary Arts to high school students in the Grand Valley.  She began her assignment as Technical Instructor of Culinary Arts last fall.

This unique program allows School District  51 students to earn dual high school and college credit in the program by  taking classes at the WCCC  Bishop Campus in Grand Junction.

Branscum’s teaching philosophy can be summed up by this quote from President Dwight Eisenhower: “A sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.”

Branscum began her teaching career at WCCC in 2013 as an instructor of Baking and Pastry Arts .  She earned her Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Central Missouri and has worked and taught at UCM, the University of Arkansas, and the University of California at Riverside.  She loves teaching culinary, as it combines two of her greatest passions: working with college students and cooking.

“I am so excited about our new dual credit high school program.  It’s an affordable way for high school students to earn college credit in Culinary Arts and learn valuable job training, and they are also introduced to our community here at WCCC, and figuring out that they can be a successful college student here and at CMU,” she says.

Branscum has assisted Chef Wayne Smith with coaching WCCC student competition teams in American Culinary Federation sponsored culinary competitions.  She is also a certified ServSafe instructor and test proctor.

A member of the American Culinary Federation, Branscum serves on the advisory boards for District 51’s Career Center and Family & Consumer Sciences Department.  She is also a member of Lambda Alpha Epsilon, Alpha Kappa Delta, a past president of the Star Chapter of National Residence Hall Honorary, and a former Chief Justice of the Student Government Association at the University of Central Missouri.

When she is not teaching, Branscum enjoys socializing with friends, learning about great food, and watching live music.  You can frequently find her enjoying a good meal at one of her favorite local restaurants with her friends.

Chef Instructor Deborah Henderson

Technical Instructor Baking & Pastry Lab

Chef Deborah Henderson has a sweet job—literally. She has been a Technical Instructor in the Baking & Pastry Lab at Western Colorado Community College it opened in 2013.

Henderson, who earned her associate degree from Colorado Mesa University (formerly Mesa Junior College), lectures on Introduction to Baking, Confectionaries and Petit Fours, Dietary Baking, Cakes, Pies and Pastry, Cookies, Intermediate Bread Preparation and Individual Fancy Desserts Production.

She brings to her position 17 years of experience as the former baker, decorator and successful owner of The Cake Cottage in Grand Junction.   Besides her technical skills, Henderson offers her students a healthy dose of pragmatism in training for their future careers.

Although starting anew as a classroom instructor was a challenging career change, being a former business owner gave her credibility and an advantage in teaching the realistic side of the business.

“ It gives me the opportunity to mentor students in making good choices in starting businesses, working in various fields, and traveling to grow with the industry.” she explains.

She adds that Baking & Pastries has always been her passion, especially the decorating and presentation sides of the business.

Henderson works hard to help students find a little of that same passion, always showing them how their goals can be enhanced by some basic skills in their profession. “The instructors here at WCCC are very dedicated to helping our students achieve those dreams,” she emphasizes.

When she was in business, she always tried to contribute to the community by donating time, product, and skills with various organizations. She encourages her students to adopt a similar philosophy. “Community is the life blood of your work, and everyone needs to understand how important it is to serve,” she adds.

Her goal at WCCC is to develop strong ties to students and the industry by helping students to link with workshops, advanced classes and hands-on internships.

Henderson says Colorado Mesa University has also given her an opportunity to continue her own education with a Bachelor’s degree in business or hospitality.

“You’re never too old to make changes in your life,” she observes. “It is a pleasure to be a part of the Western Colorado Community College. ”

Wine Maker/Instructor Jenne Baldwin-Eaton, BS degree

Leader, Viticulture and Enology, Culinary Arts Program

As any serious foodie knows, great cuisine and wine are inseparable.   So it follows that if aspiring chefs are learning to create cuisine professionally, they need to know how to pair wines that compliment their dishes.

That realization, coupled with the fact that the Grand Valley is home to the majority of Colorado’s grape growers and wineries, makes a strong case for the Western Colorado Community College to add new instruction on those specialties.

In the Spring semester of 2017, Jenne Baldwin-Eaton began her new teaching career as Program Lead for Viticulture and Enology at Western Colorado Community College. This is the first program of its kind in Colorado and it makes sense to offer it here on the Western Slope, in the heart of the wine industry. This program is offered through the Agriculture Department and has a lot of potential for collaboration between both the well-established Culinary Program and Sustainable Agriculture.

With 22 years of experience as winemaker at Plum Creek Winery, a pioneer of the Colorado wine industry, Baldwin-Eaton is uniquely qualified to teach her subjects: Fermentation Science, Fermented beverage, Winemaking and Vineyard Establishment & Management.

She earned her BS degree in Exercise Physiology with a chemistry minor at Chico State University in California. And throughout her twenty-two years has taken countless seminars and university classes specific to winemaking, along with judging several international wine competitions.

The program Baldwin-Eaton has inaugurated offers a two-year path to an Associate of Applied Science in Viticulture and Enology, as well as certificates in Viticulture, Enology, Wine Professional and Pre-Sommelier.

Encouraged by her experience this year. Baldwin-Eaton foresees the addition of a wine-making facility on campus to take instruction to the next level of hands-on involvement. Up until now, future winemakers and viticulturist had to bring their expertise with them to Colorado. Now, Western Colorado Community College is offering a way to learn a new career and for others in the industry, to increase their knowledge right in their own backyard. Baldwin-Eaton has a true pioneering spirit with the Colorado wine industry and reflects on her start in the industry, “I was fortunate to have a mentor at the beginning of my career and I hope to pay it forward by mentoring and getting other folks interested in the Colorado wine industry”.

            Baldwin-Eaton lives with her husband and her dog, Merle in Palisade. She enjoys gardening, hiking and rafting.