Culinary Arts student selected for TLC 2023 Scholarship

Michael Owens, Santiago Martinez with scholarship checkSavannah Technical College Culinary Arts student Santiago Martinez was selected for a $2,500 scholarship by the Tourism Leadership Council. He was one of six students honored at the 25th annual TLC Tourism Awards and Scholarship Dinner.

“Santiago’s demeanor and professionalism have made a positive impact on his classmates,” said Savannah Culinary Institute Department Head Chef Gearry Caudell. “With his strong work ethic, he will go far in his chosen career path, as he develops into a future leader of our hospitality industry. I am proud to have him in my classroom.”

Martinez was recently promoted to sous chef at Oaks on the River Luxury Boutique Resort in Darien, Ga.

“I promoted him to a supervisory position (at another restaurant) and brought him in as part of the ‘opening’ crew for this new hotel’s restaurant,” said Resort Chef Chris Ciero of Oaks on the River Luxury Boutique Resort. “He has been a key element in this property’s transitional process. He has shown his skills and love for his craft, which will move him forward in this business.”

He has worked in restaurants for eight years, starting as a dishwasher at 15 and cooking for the past three years. He enjoys the fast-paced environment of a commercial kitchen and enjoys quickly adapting as it changes. He just completed his first semester as a part-time student while working full-time. He plans to earn an associate degree in Culinary Arts and then visit and work in big culinary places to learn as much as possible.

“Santiago is exceptionally hardworking and passionate about the culinary arts,” said Executive Chef Justin Dale of Three Little Birds, Fly-in, Fly-Out. “He consistently puts in extra hours to perfect his skills and dishes, always aiming for excellence and his dedication is truly admirable. His culinary skills are impressive, marked by his creativity and ability to collaborate effectively with his colleagues.”

TLC Scholarships are awarded to current or future students who are for pursuing a career in tourism, culinary, and hospitality arts. TLC has awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships and made a meaningful investment into the future of its community. Many of the students who have been awarded are currently working in the tourism community in the Coastal Empire.

The Tourism Leadership Council serves as the leading trade organization for tourism, an industry with more than 27,000 employees and a $4.4 billion economic impact in the Savannah area.

The Savannah Culinary Institute, an American Culinary Federation-accredited culinary arts program, has been described as the “best in the U.S.A” by its ACF accreditation review board. According to its committee chair, the Savannah Culinary Institute, offering ACF-accredited diploma and degree programs in culinary arts, has gone “well over and above the standards and expectations for a technical college teaching facility.” The committee recommended that the program receive the maximum accreditation time of seven years, when the average is three years. Culinary Arts and Baking & Pastry Arts associate degree graduates have a 100% placement rate in their field since 2015. The program has earned regional and national recognition with ACF-sponsored competitions. For more information visit:

Savannah Technical College serves Coastal Georgia with quality, market-driven technical education with campus locations in Chatham, Effingham and Liberty Counties. Serving more than 10,000 credit and non-credit students annually, Savannah Tech offers nearly 150 different instructional programs in Aviation Technology, Business and Professional Services, Industrial Technology, and Health Sciences in addition to Adult Education classes, industry-specific training and continuing education. The College serves as an economic and community development partner for the region, offering corporate and customized training and assessment programs for business and industry.

Savannah Technical College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate degrees, diplomas and technical certificates of credit. Questions about the accreditation of Savannah Technical College may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, GA 30033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, or by using information available on SACSCOC’s website (