2011 Senior Scholarship Winners

Since 2000, we’ve been committed to bringing our valued guests the highest quality food and service possible.  Incomparable produce, wonderful recipes, state of the art equipment, skilled cooks – we could name countless elements that go into the making of our uniquely delicious concept.  The service, well, that’s all largely a result of one main ingredient – the people.

Over the years, we’ve been graced with hundreds of young, energetic and exceptionally talented individuals from all over Southern California.  Many of them students, too, STONEFIRE Grill has always been a stepping stone toward further growth and development as they head to college and beyond.  We’re always so proud and excited to hear back from them years later, many of whom are on track to be doctors, teachers and other community leaders…and some of whom come straight back to help US improve what we do!

In an effort to honor our team members, we hold an annual Senior Scholarship Contest for those graduating and heading off to university.  Our goal here is simple – to give back to them.  With 57 having graduating this year alone, it was the least we could do to recognize their hard work.  The contest always revolves around an essay topic, and cash prizes are given to the top 3.  We’ve been overwhelmed by the response to this program, and this year was no different!

The prompt: “Think about a stereotype or long-held belief that you had before beginning your job at STONEFIRE Grill.  How has your experience at STONEFIRE Grill helped change or broaden your perspective?”

Here’s an excerpt from our 1st place winner, Makenna Breitenfeld (West Hills):

“In everyday life I am reserved and not especially open to new people. While working I was forced to change that about myself. Since I was constantly being approached by new people, it was impossible for me to avoid new situations. Getting a job forced me to confront this fear, and I am glad I did so while I was still young and in high school…Working at STONEFIRE Grill has broadened the expectations I have for myself. It has forced me to see my flaws, and provided me with methods to improve them. Although I am still not perfect, STONEFIRE is a major influence on my continuing maturation into a trusting and successful adult. I have learned that if given the opportunity, anyone, no matter their age, can dictate the outcome.”

Sophie Fink (West Hills), our 2nd place contestant, had this to say:

“…Like I had anticipated before I started working, I do walk around the restaurant being friendly and always sporting a smile.  How reality differs from my expectations is that I am actually happy, and my smile is genuine, not forced.  Working at STONEFIRE has not only taught me how to improve myself through teaching me necessary life skills about responsibility and maintaining a good attitude, but how to improve the lives of other people, if only by providing them with a pleasant dining experience.”

With so many wonderful entries, 3rd place came in as a tie between two team members, Thousand Oaks’ Leah Butler and Irvine’s Katherine DiPlacito.  Here’s a little bit from Leah’s essay:

STONEFIRE Grill has really opened my eyes to seeing what it looks like when you are working with a true team…The managers and fellow employees are a genuine group a good-hearted people with nothing but positivity and kindness to show towards each other. These traits are what make an individual something extraordinary. I will admit that having a lot of money, fame, or power is nice in a sense, but from working at STONEFIRE Grill, I have come to believe that molding an exceptionally well-rounded character is something to be much more cherished.”

Finally, Katherine sums it up better than we ever could:

“As my days increase in my white button-up shirt and black apron, I grow closer with this family; I trust these people, depend on them, and respect them. They not only shred my stereotype of a typical high school job, but blow it out of the water. I’ve begun to understand that a successful business is about the people who run it; the people who show up everyday to do their job and do it well, never forgetting a positive attitude. Although amazing food helps, it would not be possible without the cooks who show up at the crack-of-dawn to prepare food, the employees who work long hours despite going to school full-time, the managers who work 6 days a week to make sure everything runs smoothly, and the night crews who endlessly pick-up after us. No one here is for personal advancement, and favoritism is not an option, because at STONEFIRE Grill we are all part of a carefully calculated machine that needs every nut and bolt to keep providing the tremendous service it is known for.”

CONGRATULATIONS to this year’s four deserving winners, and best of luck to each of our seniors as they continue their journeys outside of our restaurants and into the many opportunities that await them!