A student with a dream: Culinary School offers training for the future

October 26, 2022

When Milford resident Maritza Figueroa lost the job she had held for 15 years, she pivoted and landed at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford. At age 60, Figueroa realizes she may be older than a typical student, but in a professional kitchen – as in other locations – age is simply another number.

She – and her classmates – spend 12 weeks in the classroom and the Food Bank’s professional training kitchen, and they’ll be off to two-week paid work experiences before graduating in December.  She’s ready to tackle that challenge as well.

She brought to the classroom and the kitchen some personal and professional goals that align with her existing skills and passions. Why did she decide on the Food Bank’s Culinary School in Milford?  “I’m a certified health and life coach and a functional nutritionist,” she said, noting that she is “building a practice to encourage others to learn their way around the kitchen. A lot of women think of cooking as a chore, but it doesn’t have to be.”

Figueroa says she is looking forward to her upcoming work experience, another step toward eventually owning her own restaurant. “This [the culinary training] has really been a blessing to me. I’m looking forward to learning and growing. I love everything about the Food Bank. There are so many opportunities here.”

This student especially loves the nutrition classes taught by Alicia, one of the Food Bank’s community nutrition educators. Figueroa noted that she was not even aware of the career opportunities that exist within the nutrition profession. “I have a passion for seeing people eat healthier.”

She’d like to have her own restaurant one day. Her dream: something simple that would feature community tables, tapas, a choice of charcuterie boards. “A fun, quaint place,” Figueroa said.

The Food Bank of Delaware’s Delaware Food Works workforce development program offers free training through our Culinary Schools in Newark and Milford. The next class starts in January.

The Culinary School is a 14-week training program that’s certified through the Delaware Department of Education. Students are prepared to enter careers in the food service industry with an opportunity to complete ServSafe ® training as well.

Tuition is paid through scholarships and generous grants. In addition, students may receive free transportation to attend class; gas cards are available for student drivers. To learn more about The Culinary School, click here.

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