Students of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School began class on January 6, as the organization continued its program for the second year in Milford. Part of the newest expansion to the Milford facility, the Culinary School provides valuable job training to unemployed, underemployed, clients with disabilities, ex-offenders and those in career transition.
Former student and graduate of the inaugural program, Charles Ballard, spoke with this year’s students on Wednesday, January 15 about his experience with the course and his transition from culinary student to working in the kitchen at Cool Springs Fish Bar & Restaurant in Dover, Delaware.
“In this school you are leaving little cookie trails in the cooking community,” commented Ballard. Stressing that students must put in hard work to be successful, he reassured them that if they work hard they will be ready to compete in the food industry. “This school presents the realities of working in the kitchen and once you are in the field they will expect you to know everything.”
In addition to working at Cool Springs Fish Bar & Restaurant, Charles has also enrolled at Delaware Technical & Community College and hopes to obtain a degree in Culinary Arts.
“I never thought that I would be going to college,” stated Charles as he spoke to the class. “This program has given me the confidence to believe in myself. When I am working in the kitchen I go in with the attitude that I am representing this school.”
The fourteen-week program includes learning basic and high-end kitchen skills as well as Life-Empowerment Skills such as resume building, time management, financial literacy and interviewing. Students have the opportunity to internship will local restaurants as they earn their ServSafe certification, a course essential for those working in commercial kitchens. Upon graduation, the Food Bank of Delaware helps place students in entry-level jobs in the food industry.
Eight students have enrolled in this year’s school including Alysa Howe who is from the Milford area. Working in the restaurant industry for over ten years, she hopes to gain additional knowledge about cooking through this program.
“I work in a kitchen but I have no formal training,” commented Howe. “I am looking to ditch my bad habits and learn the best way to do things. I know that I have a lot to learn and I am excited about the program.”
As the program continues over the next four months students will learn techniques highly desirable to employers in the food industry and develop skills that have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry. The Food Bank of Delaware believes this program will provide job security and economic sustainability for students and their families.
“Our main goal of the Culinary School is to further develop our employment placement services for our students,” commented Brenda Palomo, Program Manager of the Culinary School. “As we teach students the realities of working in the kitchen we also offer skills such as resume building that will help them to obtain employment.” From last year’s graduating class of eleven students , seven received job offers from local restaurants and four are currently employed.
Students interested in applying to the Culinary School later this year must have a high school diploma or GED with a ninth grade reading and math level. The cost to attend is $5,700, however, the Food Bank of Delaware works with each candidate to identify funding sources. Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Veterans Affairs and other community-based organizations. For more information or to apply, interested individuals can contact Brenda Palomo, Culinary Arts Program Manager, at (302) 424-3301 ext 107 or firstname.lastname@example.org.