Adams Sponsors Bowie High Culinary Program

I first learned about John G. Adams Sr. last winter, when I was working on a story about professional culinary schools in Austin (austinchronicle.com/issues/dispatch/2001-01-19/food_feature.html). At the time, when I talked with Pat Bell at AISD Administration about the culinary programs in Austin high schools, she told me how substantively the local corporate sponsors had contributed to the success of the schools' culinary programs. She explained that, 12 years ago, the Adams Extract Company became the district's first business sponsor -- at the Bowie High School culinary program.

According to Kent Ewing, the principal at Bowie High School, the seeds of the relationship between Adams Extract and Bowie High School were planted when he and Adams met at a civic-group banquet downtown. At the dinner, they began a dialogue about ways that Austin businesses might help Austin schools. The result was that Ewing invited the officers of the Adams Company to hold a luncheon business meeting at the Bowie Culinary Program's dining room, catered by the students. Adams was so impressed by what he saw (and ate), that the company became a sponsor on the spot and has remained one ever since.

Ewing says that establishing that first corporate sponsor relationship opened all kinds of doors with other local businesses, who have also become culinary-program sponsors at Bowie and the other high-school programs. Together, the business sponsors provide the culinary programs with much-needed equipment, supplies, mentoring, guest lectures, and job placement.

I asked Principal Ewing about the Adams Company's role as sponsor to the Bowie Culinary Program. He explained that they supply all the spices and flavorings used in the kitchen, they create gift baskets for each Student of the Month, and they have donated a washer and dryer for student uniforms and the dining-room table linens. Chef Richard Winemiller told me that the Adams' lab provides guest speakers on topics like the production and history of spices, and the uses of herbs, spices, and flavorings in the kitchen.

When I inquired about the Adams Extract banner that is prominently displayed in the Bowie dining room, Ewing said, "I can't imagine the Bowie culinary program without the support of John Adams. That flag is more than just decoration; it is symbolic of a real partnership between this school program and the Adams Company."

I asked how many students have been influenced by Adams' sponsorship. Ewing thought about it for a minute, and then said, "Well in 12 years, at least 1,000 students have gone through the culinary program at Bowie. Every one of them has benefited in some way from Mr. Adams' generosity."

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  • Not Just Plain Vanilla

    You may have noticed the neon deco sign on the roof of the Adams Extract Company's distinctively low-slung Moderne building, set back from I-35 just south of Slaughter Lane and rather dramatically surrounded by prairie grassland. What you might not know, Food writer MM Pack explains, is that, unlike Betty Crocker, there really is a Mr. Adams and he still makes the extracts from top-secret family formulas.

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