by Andrea JudyCameron Thompson juggles a lot on a day-to-day basis. As a full-time sous chef for PantherDining catering and a full-time student in the J. Mack Robinson College of Business, she has mastered the art of managing her time. Her passion for food and people gives her the energy to keep active, especially during the holidays.
Continuing in a family trend in the culinary carts, Thompson learned her love of cooking from her aunt, a chef, and her grandmother, a cookbook writer. Growing up around food, Thompson spent time in commercial kitchens as a teen, fostering a love for creating food and drinks. After finishing her culinary degree at the Art Institute of Atlanta she worked at several catering businesses and restaurants doing a lot of back-end work, but not in the kitchen. “They always say that chefs can cook but they can’t run a business, and I wanted to be able to do both,” Thompson said.
She soon realized that to get the well-rounded education she wanted, she’d need to go back to school. In 2012, Thompson became a double major in hospitality and finance at Georgia State University. When Thompson began her career as a student, she also began working at PantherDining. She started in an administrative role, but as the catering program grew, she found herself joining in full time to help serve events across campus.
As a student Thompson has joined Eta Sigma Delta and the Georgia Restaurant Association, and she has maintained her chef license with the American Culinary Federation, all while managing a full course load and a full-time job. Thompson says enjoying her job and her classes helps keep her focused. “The best part about being a chef is being creative,” she said. “I love coming up with new ideas to bring to people.” Between classes and cooking, she has opportunities to come up with new ideas every day.
As the holidays approach, Thompson shared a few tips she uses to help make the holidays fun, and easy for anyone throwing a party or get together, “One of the easiest ways to help manage the holidays is to delegate,” she said. “That way you don’t have to do everything to prepare for an event. Have a bunch of friends over and have each person bring something.”
The holidays aren’t just for parties. Thompson recommended networking and offering help to others especially during this time of year. “I’ve built a great network. Other students and I all know each other and help each other out,” she said, “And there are others who need help during this time of year, too. Reach out to them.”
With her anticipated graduation a year off, Thompson is excited to see how her hospitality degree will help her opportunities grow. “The hospitality department has given me a chance to immerse myself in events that directly relate to things that match my career growth. They provide the opportunity to take classes such as hospitality management, franchising, and beverage management that help in developing the skills and knowledge that I need to manage a successful company.”