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The Campus Lantern

Coleman Benner’s passion for cooking


With beads of sweat trickling down the sides of his forehead and muscles fatiguing from his continuous movement in the kitchen, Coleman Benner is in the process of cheffing up one of his best meals yet. The occasion? Benner family dinner night.

Coleman Benner is a senior at Springside Chestnut Hill Academy. It is important to know what everyone is passionate about because that is the one thing that most people care about. For Coleman, it is cooking. Coleman loves the idea of making people happy with the creation that he’s made with his hands and seeing the joy on the faces of happy customers or family members that results from one of his meals. Since Coleman is a hard-working student, he doesn’t have much time during the week to cook, so it’s mostly during the weekends that he makes the space to decompress and do what he loves the most. It is during this time that he prepares special meals that are not for his friends or family at a soup kitchen in Germantown where he feeds the less fortunate. “That is one of my favorite things, culinary wise, to do because it gives me an outlet on the weekends to not only cook, but also express my passion to other people and help people out in a way,” Coleman said. It is these times on the weekends that he loves the most because he experiences people’s faces light up when they enjoy his food.

It all started around the age of four on his family farm in upstate Pennsylvania. There Coleman was introduced to the art of cooking, and there Coleman fell in love with the preparation of the vegetables and garnishes and acting as a waiter to serve his family members his meals. His parents had him not only be the cook but also serve his food so he could encounter the satisfaction on his family’s faces which would motivate him to keep his fire for cooking alive and burning.

“Helping my parents in the kitchen helped and we had an earthen oven for pizza nights, which we did a lot on the weekends,” Cole said. “I was also around a lot of ingredients. I was a waiter for the pizza nights, and I was kind of immersed in almost a restaurant setting at a very young age,” Cole stated.

It was obvious to Coleman that his passion for cooking wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for his parents putting him in this “restaurant setting” and helping him along the way, teaching him things such as how to take care of their farm.

Fast forward fourteen years later, Coleman has a few projects in the works right now. Like I’ve mentioned earlier, Coleman is a high achieving academic student, so he has a lot on his plate. However, in his commitments at school, he utilizes the program that’s he involved with to the max. Venture Accelerator is the CEL class at SCH that helps students explore and expand their creativity and hopefully turn it into a business. In Venture Accelerator, Coleman has taken his love for cooking to the next level.

“I started a small restaurant [Brooksville Dinner Club] this summer so that’s kind of the peak of my culinary career so far,” Coleman said.

He has also mentioned that he had a lot of help from the Mr. Glassman, the advisor that oversees the Venture Accelerator program. It wasn’t as easy as just having an idea of a restaurant and just cooking. No. Coleman had to build his own website and advertise his restaurant through social media accounts like Instagram and Twitter. So, a dream is just an idea without execution.

Some may think that being an owner of his own restaurant, volunteering at the soup kitchen, and juggling high school academic work is impossible and that Coleman has no time for himself. Well, that’s not the case. According to Ms. Friedland, Coleman’s Upper School advisor, “He’s a quiet force. If you ask him about what he’s working on at any moment, he could say, ‘oh, I was foraging in the Wissahickon for mushrooms.’”

She has been Coleman’s advisor for two years and knows him really well. There were days where he would show Mrs. Friedland his photos of his meals, days where he would store leftovers in her refrigerator, or just work quietly on homework for a certain class. Coleman was always doing something.

Mrs. Friedland mentioned, “. . . some people say that there are human beings, he’s a human doing, He’s always doing something.”

There is no better person to ask what Coleman is really like than his own twin brother, Owen Benner. Since they were kids Owen has been proud to see Coleman grow up with a passion. Many people go through phases with hobbies, trying to find what they love; however, this wasn’t the case for Coleman. Cooking wasn’t a hobby for him, it was a privilege that he was honored to do every day.

“Coleman is known for his drive, not just for cooking, but for his academics as well. He knew that to be able to pursue his passion in the long run successfully, he had to excel in the classroom. Coleman kept cooking in the back of his mind, put his head down, and worked hard every single day,” Owen stated. He added, “He’s more self sufficient now because he can make his own food. When we have friends over, Cole will cook for us.”

To his family and friends, Coleman isn’t just Coleman, he’s Chef Coleman.

As for life after high school, his future is still up in the air. He can see himself  involved with cooking, but he doesn’t think that it will be his main career.

“I think my passion for cooking is something that’s not an exact thing. I definitely can see myself 100% going into some sort of food industry,” Coleman said.

With the end of his high school career frying down to a crisp, Coleman will have to look through the seasoning cabinet to find what he wants.

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About the Contributor
Ha'oa Bode
Ha'oa Bode, Staff Writer
Ha'oa is currently a senior at SCH. He is a rookie in the field of journalism. He comes from the islands of Oahu, Hawaii and American Samoa. He has three sisters and is the only boy out of the four children. He is a Drizzy fan and loves to listen to oldies as well. He pumps 90 off the mound.
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    julien friedlandOct 27, 2023 at 12:31 pm