The family of Chef Colleen Curley of Cuisine with Colleen has set up a perpetual memorial scholarship for Onsted High School seniors interested in a career in Culinary Arts. The first recipient, Lucas Downs, was announced this week. Lucas attended the LISD Culinary Arts Program for two years.
The scholarship was made possible by generous donations from individuals and area businesses wishing to honor Chef Colleen. Two of the major fundraisers were the Brooklyn Moose (her favorite charity) and Johnnie’s Bar & Grill — Onsted.
Chef Colleen left a long-term human resources career and founded Cuisine with Colleen in 2013, specializing in creating five-course dinners for a wide range of clients. She was a personal chef, not a caterer. As she used to say, “It’s not catering — it’s an experience!”
For Chef Colleen, her love of cooking stemmed from her mother, Jean Riley. When Chef Colleen married her Manchester High School sweetheart, Bob Curley, she passed on her enthusiasm for creating amazing food to their children, John and Katie. They both worked beside her in many food competitions and Katie was her full-time sous chef for Cuisine with Colleen. In 2016, Chef Colleen won the title of Bacon World Champion at the World Food Championships with a bacon and jam-stuffed filet mignon served under a glass dome filled with applewood smoke.
Chef Colleen was passionate about her small business and a fierce supporter of local small businesses. This month, the Irish Hills Chamber of Commerce named Chef Colleen their 2021 Citizen of the Year for her outstanding dedication to the residents, businesses, and community. Their online announcement said, “We were so unbelievably saddened by the loss of our 2021 Citizen of the Year, Colleen Curley, and honored to present the award to her husband, Bob, and daughter, Katie. Colleen was such a ray of sunshine, an amazing businesswoman, and loved giving back to her community.”
As a tribute to Chef Colleen’s memory, bracelets are available at several local establishments including Jerry’s Pub & Restaurant, Patriot Pub & Grub, Brooklyn Moose, Shady’s Tap Room, Johnnie’s Bar & Grill — Onsted, and Club 223. They are all orange — her signature color — and glow in the dark. Embossed on the outside, they read, ‘For Chef Colleen’ and ‘Cuisine with Colleen.’ The inside says, ‘Bon Appetit.’ All proceeds go toward the scholarship fund.
The family hopes to double the foundation fund for next year. If you would like to contribute, you can do so online. If you prefer to make a donation by mail, you can send it to Onsted Community School Foundation, P.O. Box 220, Onsted, MI 49265. Please make a note on the check that the contribution is for Colleen Curley.
Everyone who met Colleen knew she was a bright light in this world with her infectious smile and giving spirit. Through her memorial scholarship for Onsted High School seniors, her light continues to shine.