Jesse Midgley

Jesse Midgley in OCC’s student run restaurant, “Stonewalls” which is located on the first floor of the Gordon Student Center.
  • Major: Hospitality Management
  • HS: Fayetteville-Manlius, class of 2010

Fatherhood has helped Jesse Midgley focus on what’s important. “The driving factor for me is my kids. I wanted to set an example for them. They made me sit down and figure out what I wanted with my life and what I wanted them to see that I have in life.”

His road to success didn’t start smoothly. Eight years ago Midgley graduated from Fayetteville-Manlius High School, went to college that fall and dropped out. He tried again a couple of years later but finances were a problem. In the summer of 2017 he began taking classes at OCC and it’s been a perfect fit. He’s achieved President’s List status each semester while enrolled in the Hospitality Management major. He also works full time at the Cheesecake Factory as a cook and designated trainer. There’s no down time when Midgley gets home. He and his fiancée are raising their three children ages 5, 3 and 2.

Midgley’s passion for cooking started at a young age. He remembers going to his grandfather’s house once a week and cooking dinner for whomever was there. “One time we cooked sausages, ground the meat ourselves, filled the casings and made sauce for it. When we served it, I remembered seeing people eat the food and knowing I had made it. That feeling of pride was something I could translate into a career. I think it’s really important to have a career you can take pride in. I just ran with it. I found a job in food service then I found this program and knew it was what I wanted to do.”

His favorite faculty member (so far) is Chef James Taylor. “His depth of knowledge is huge. His life experience is something I hope to have someday. I’ve learned so much more in my year-and-a-half with this program than what I learned in five years on my own.”

Midgley will earn his degree next May. He plans to attend culinary school and hopes to one day own his restaurant. He’s thrilled to be fulfilling his dream and isn’t concerned with any monetary gain. “People think you’re going to make a lot of money. You’re not going to. You really have to love it. The passion has to kick in. You’re going to put in super long hours. It’s that reward you get at the end that makes it all worth it.”