The James Cole Sprouts' Fund was started in loving memory of James Cole, a true believer in real foods and hands-on cooking. His fund supports Sprouts' scholarships and cooking programs so that all children might have the opportunity to develop the same passion that James had for good food.
From the beginning, James Cole exhibited an intense passion for cooking and fine dining. As a child he enjoyed spending time in the kitchen, watching his mother cook and helping her with the preparation of special meals. His first foray into the culinary arts involved the creation of elaborate deli sandwiches. He was so patient and meticulous—folding the meats just right, spreading the condiments evenly, arranging the tomatoes and lettuce perfectly. His step-father loved his sandwiches so much that he would pay James to make them for his lunch. James further honed his culinary skills while watching Julia Child and Jacques Pepin; he irritated his brother incessantly by forcing him to watch countless episodes of the California Culinary Academy’s “Cooking at the Academy” on PBS after school. His mother’s fondest memories are of holidays spent in the kitchen with her two sons. They were always by her side, with James acting as sous chef and assisting from start to finish. They had so much fun together, tasting and perfecting the dishes. When he eventually moved away to attend college, James would call home months in advance to start planning the family’s holiday menu.
One of the things that James loved most in life was sharing meals with family and friends. At college barbeques he was the master of the grill, a skill he lovingly acquired from his father. He even won the heart of his fiancée on their third date when he prepared a delectable multi-course meal of perfectly grilled fillet with sautéed mushrooms, and jumbo prawns with a garlic butter dipping sauce. James reveled in dissecting the flavors of dishes from his favorite restaurants with the goal of replicating them at home. He rarely followed recipes and loved to try new things. He spent most of his free time seeking out unique culinary experiences: dining out at local establishments, from Michelin starred restaurants to hole-in-the wall taquerias, always making fast friends with the staff. Most vacations involved seeking out the best places to eat, one of the few things James actually enjoyed planning.
James seriously considered going to culinary school following his graduation from Cal Poly, but was hindered by the high cost of the program. With his business degree in hand, James rapidly rose up the ladder to become a Sales Manager at Google. All the while his ultimate goal was to one day open his own restaurant; unfortunately, he wasn’t given enough time to realize his dream… The mission of Sprouts aligns perfectly with James’s passions, working with children and young adults to pursue their love of cooking. We know that James would have been a big fan of the program, helping to make the dreams of his kindred spirits a reality.