Strains of Pomp and Circumstance filled the Pathlight Kitchen Banquet Room as the smiling graduates received their certificates and chef’s coats. The celebration marked completion of the re-started, post-pandemic Culinary Training Program (complete with masks) as well as the inaugural partnering of the cooking program with the Pathlight Home Employment Center. How ideal to be able to also assist culinary students with job and life skills needed to succeed in the workplace!
Derrick was beside himself with excitement. “I feel great, wonderful…I achieved my goal of learning more about the kitchen…how to present myself…to hold a knife,” the new graduate said. “I learned to make a stock…prepare and sauté, filet and cook fish…we made Asian food.”
Just two short months ago, we shared a story about Derrick’s positive attitude, progress in our housing programs and dream of owning a soul food truck. When we suggested he apply for the culinary program, he immediately jumped on the opportunity through his Case Manager Gail Smith and started class as the story ran. Little could he imagine how much he would get out of the experience!
“I networked. I met a good instructor, Chef Esteban, and Fernando…and a former classmate,” Derrick explained. “Chef taught me a lot…he’d show you [how to do something] and if you needed help, he’d help you. I wanted to brush up on my culinary skills and learned safe and healthy food preparation.”
Derrick is just as thrilled about his “Power Talks” with Employment Manager Fernando Beaubrun, every morning before cooking class. They focused on the business and strategic parts of planning for a food truck, the fear of change, whom to trust, how to approach people, and similar subjects. “We watched videos with tricks of the trade, how to start your own business, and to concentrate on one item when you start your food truck.”
“I’ve got to learn the business part,” says Derrick as he contemplates a culinary opportunity through the Employment Center. “I can work in their kitchen two or three days a week as a learning experience, while investigating the business part of the food truck.” That makes perfect sense to us!
As he eats the delicious graduation dessert that he helped prepare, Derrick sums up his last eight weeks, the people he met and the help he got in one word. “AWESOME!”