Joseph Coleman puts his money where his mouth is.

Coleman, founder of the Blue Star Group, is a big supporter of the Pikes Peak Community College culinary arts program. Over the years, he has hired interns from the school to work in kitchens at his restaurants, including The Blue Star, Nosh and his new eateries in the Ivywild School. He sees the culinary school as a community asset and wants to support the program.

"Joseph has always helped culinary students," said Christina Brodsly, spokesperson for the Blue Star Group.

"He enjoys helping people out with their culinary education. Before the Fran Folsom fund, he never officially gave out scholarships, but he has helped dozens of PPCC students."

Last year he created the Fran Folsom Culinary Arts Scholarship Fund in partnership with the college. Now he has set up a system to continue giving scholarships to deserving culinary students whether they work for him or not.

And speaking of working for him: He has hired students after they have finished the culinary program at The Blue Star, Nosh, The Meat Locker and Old School Bakery.

"The Old School Bakery is primarily staffed by former and current PPCC students," Brodsly said. "Heather Sheridan is the head baker and Shameeka Ford is working at The Blue Star."

Coleman named the scholorship after Folsom because of her vast influence on the world of food in Colorado Springs. Luckily for us, when she retired in the 1970s from her position as director of home economics for the Hotpoint Division of General Electric in Chicago, she moved to Colorado Springs. She used her culinary experience and foodie connections to become the culinary director of the former Broadmoor Cooking School at the Little Kitchen.

Much of the credit for elevating the level of culinary awareness in the Springs can be credited to her. She brought celebrity chefs to teach at the Little Kitchen before chefs were considered celebrities. Think Jacques Pepin, Diana Kennedy and Giuliano Bugialli. With these friends in the industry she was influential in creating one of Colorado Springs' most anticipated events: the Colorado Springs Chorale Chefs' Gala. For years she was the go-to person to recruit judges for the cooking smack-down. As a matter of fact, it was Pepin who developed the judging work sheet and process that is still used today to rank the chefs' dishes.

With the faculty of the community college culinary department and Folsom, Coleman created a fundraising dinner that involved the students of the school. The students competed for the honor of creating a dish for the special dinner held Oct. 20 at Nosh. Judges for the cooking tryout were Folsom, Coleman, The Blue Star chef Andrew Sherill, Old School Bakery pastry chef Alicia Prescott, school dean Bree Langemo and associate dean and chef Rob Hudson.

Winning chefs were Sara Melton and Pam Rambough for appetizers; Jennifer Bostick for the soup course; Supansa Banker for the entree; and Kamala Grogan Rheaume, Katherine Welch and Katie Conlon, who prepared a trio of desserts.

Coleman underwrote the food and wine for the dinner. He hosted the event at his eatery and supplied chefs to help the students prepare the meal.

At the first benefit dinnerin 2012, they raised enough money to award three students scholarships of $2,600 each for their culinary education. Recipients were William Bower, Sara Melton and David Dias.

William Bower was also awarded The Blue Star Scholarship of $2,600, which is given to an outstanding culinary student aiming to impact the local culinary scene.