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Chopped champion chef talks with Sumner Hill classes

Special to The Clinton Courier

Chef Nick WallaceStudents in Bradley Pope’s freshman accounting classes at Sumner Hill Junior High School were recently visited by celebrity chef Nick Wallace.
The winner of Food Network’s Chopped: Alton’s Challenge and owner of Mississippi-based Nick Wallace Culinary discussed with students the importance of proper planning in order to develop a successful restaurant or other entrepreneurial endeavor.
“It’s very important to talk to students to show them that these numbers really matter,” Wallace said. “These numbers are what is going to keep you around, especially in this business. A chef has to know about accounting. It’s not just cooking. It’s about everything involved.”
Pope said the visit from Wallace was a chance to bring the real world to what they have been learning in the classroom.
“Students understand numbers,” Pope said, “but they don’t necessarily understand how numbers will be used as a chef and owner and entrepreneur.”
“It was important to have Chef Wallace talk to these students about how he relies on financial information to base his decisions in order to grow his business,” Pope said.
“My grandmother told me a long time ago that as much as you get in life, you need to give back just as much, so that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Wallace said. “Focusing on the kids and the next generation is always really important to me.”
Chef Wallace is a father of two students in the Clinton Public School District. His daughter Nikyah is a senior and son Nick, Jr. is a junior, both at Clinton High School.
During the presentation, Wallace showed real numbers linked to his businesses and how costs are projected.
“There are banks and businesses that want to give you money,” Wallace told the students, “but you have to have a plan.”
Wallace said financial institutions want to see how payroll, sales and other costs make up the projected budget.
“As much as the business is made up of numbers,” Wallace told students, “you need to remember that everything comes full circle, so treat everyone with respect. You never know when you will have a chance to collaborate or partner with others.”
“Accounting is numbers,” Wallace said, “but what all can it produce? So much, and that depends on you and your willingness to make it happen.”
Pope said the visit was more valuable than anything that could be found in a textbook, echoing the importance of students being exposed to real-world scenarios.
“Chef Wallace showed how real financial forecasting and budgeting has helped him in his business efforts,” Pope added. “Today’s visit put a lot of real-world meaning behind what we’ve done this semester.”

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