At its monthly board meeting last week, the Tarrant County chapter of the Texas Restaurant Association honored pioneering chef Walter Kaufmann by naming its very first scholarship after him. The 85-year-old Kaufmann, whose career was recently featured in a Fort Worth Weekly cover story, serves as a board member of the organization.
The $500 Walter Kaufmann Scholarship will be awarded to a high school student studying the culinary arts in the ProStart program, a nationwide job training program created by the National Restaurant Association designed to give students hands-on professional training in the restaurant and food service industries. There are 21 schools in Tarrant County involved in the program, six of which are in the Fort Worth School district.
Nancy Ward, the president of the Tarrant County Restaurant Association, said the group’s education committee asked its members to nominate and vote on whose name the scholarship would bear.
“We decided at he beginning of this session in August we wanted to offer at least one scholarship for a high school student who wants to continue on into the hospitality industry,” she said. “I asked for a silent vote, and overwhelmingly the vote came in to have it named after Walter.
“We all adore Walter,” she said. “We jokingly call him the pope. He’s been there and done it; and he’s a huge proponent of education.”
Kaufmann said he was surprised and humbled by the gesture.
“When they presented that to me, I just broke down,” he said. “All I could say is ‘Thank you, I’m honored.’ I got emotional about it.”