After a 12-year stint with the U.S. Postal Service and service with the Marine Corps, Gaylan Maxson was ready for a change. Six years ago, looking for a new opportunity to pursue his lifelong dream and passion of cooking, Gaylan enrolled in The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware.
Under the instruction of Chef Instructor Tim Hunter (now our Executive Chef), Gaylan learned the basics in the 14-week training program and had the opportunity to become ServSafe certified.
Fast forward to 2016, and never in his “wildest dreams” did he think he’d be responsible for overseeing Connections Community Support Programs’ $3 million food service operation, Catering Connections.
Gaylan is responsible for managing a team of 27 paid employees. With operations in Wilmington and Seaford, the team prepares thousands of meals each day for local Boys & Girls Clubs, senior centers, drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, school cafeterias, group homes and more. Last year, Catering Connections produced more than 700,000 meals. In addition, the group caters for local business functions.
He credits The Culinary School for helping him gain the needed culinary knowledge to operate these kitchens. An important component of the training was learning food service regulations and having the opportunity to become ServSafe certified.
Gaylan starts each day early. He opens the organization’s Wilmington kitchen located in a church on Washington Street. Some days he travels to Seaford to check on the downstate operations.
“I’m the first one in the building, I get the ovens turned on, and the employees are walking in the door right behind me,” he says. “It’s controlled chaos.”
Gaylan credits Catering Connections’ success to this staff. Many of them once utilized Connections’ drug rehabilitation programs.
“I have a group of people around me that are very talented and they raise the bar for me,” he says.
Looking down the road five years from now, Gaylan says he hopes to become “a well-known chef for the work that I do and spotlight the skills that I have been taught.”
“I have dreams and aspirations to be on TV,” he adds.
For students considering The Culinary School, Gaylan advises, “Make sure it’s what you want to do and have the passion for it. It’s hard work, but if you have the passion and can develop the skill – it’s an art.”
Interested in a career in the food service, The next class of The Culinary School in both Newark and Milford starts in the fall! Applications are currently being accepted. Click here to learn more.