Culinary Alumni Spotlight: Sade Tatman

November 7, 2019

Sade Tatman graduated from the Delaware Food Works Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware just four months ago and has already been promoted at the Restaurant Associates-run corporate cafeteria at JPMorgan Chase’s Stanton campus.

Sade impressed her supervisor, Executive Chef Kyle Dailey, from the moment she started her two-week work experience.

“I can show her a million effective ways to be faster or better ways to do something and she is like a sponge,” says Chef Kyle. “But work ethic, I can’t teach that. It doesn’t come from me, it comes from inside. She has it. She was hungry from day one.”

With more than 4,000 employees on the Stanton campus, the cafeteria is busy. Sade got her start learning the ins and outs of each food station. During her work experience, her recipe, shrimp and chicken alfredo stuffed baked potato was one of the featured recipes. “Everyone gets their chance to shine here,” Sade points out.

Chef Kyle describes Sade as a “rockstar.”

She credits The Culinary School for helping to get her foot in the door at Restaurant Associates.

“Chef [Food Bank of Delaware Executive Chef Tim Hunter] told me it’s a male-dominated business, but there are ways if you work hard enough, people will notice and they will give you a shot and its up to you to take the opportunity.”

Sade took Chef Tim’s advice seriously and worked hard to stand out.

Chef Kyle admits that he didn’t have a spot for Sade when he hired her.

“I told my director, ‘I am not letting her go. Somebody will fall off the wagon; they always do.’ I kept her on,” he explained. “I was over budget for a little while; I told my client, this is the reason why, and they let it slide and said make sure it works out. Someone gave their notice and all the promotions happened, and she had a full-time job. It happens when you don’t expect it.”

Sade was hired full-time and within months was promoted to catering chef.

“I went to school wanting to be a catering chef, and I can’t believe I am getting the opportunity to do that here already,” she says.

Her boss adds, “I gave her a shot at catering and we haven’t turned back since. That was only three months of working here… it’s way more responsibility from managing one station to do all of the catering. Catering is a team effort; she is the head honcho. I have her back 100 percent. I probably could have gone to the street to hire someone with a little more experience, but again you don’t know what you are getting. Anyone can interview well for 20 minutes. I saw her consistency, so I took a shot and it’s worked out. It’s only going to get better.”

“Chef gave me an opportunity,” Sade points out. “Every day I learn something new.  He is confident in me. He tells me things to do and he lets me have my input. It’s just amazing. I love it. I am so happy. Going to the Food Bank was the best decision of my life. It was scary. I had to quit my job and go there for three months, but it changed my life so much.”

Sade’s goal is to continue growing with Restaurant Associates. Each day she gets more comfortable with the catering menu and is working on speed in the kitchen.

“Chef is amazing in the kitchen,” she says. “He isn’t overwhelmed. He is patient. He has so much confidence in you that it make you confident. Everyone on the team is great. It’s the best place I have ever worked.”

The skills that Sade learned at The Culinary School have helped immensely in the kitchen at JPMorgan Chase. Knife skills, food safety and sanitation and the opportunity to work in the Food Bank’s student-run Discover Cafe have been most important.

Working the grand opening of the Food Bank’s new headquarters was especially memorable for Sade. “There were more than 150 people at the grand opening. I was right there on the front line. It gave me confidence,” she says. “It made me feel good. I can really do this.”

Looking back on her experience at The Culinary School, Sade appreciates Chef Tim’s emphasis on a clean kitchen. “Cleaning that floor every day…. that kind of stuff builds character,” she says “It prepares you. All of the processes – I know what he was doing. He was building structure in us – something that never leaves you. When you come here, you automatically have that. You know how to keep things clean, there is a standard to uphold.”

Sade says working at Restaurant Associates has been a “blessing.” “You are set up for life once you get in here,” she says. “I wake up and go to work and while I’m here, I just make a conscious decision to do the best I can for the day. I go to bed feeling satsified.”

Her advice to current and future culinary students, “Listen to everything that Chef [says]. They really need to listen. He is trying to set them up for life with a career. It’s hard to get employed anywhere. If they have the opportunity to go to the Food Bank of Delaware, they need to uitlize all of the outlets that are given to them. Work hard. Things will happen. Be a sponge.”

Interested in pursuing a career in the food service industry? The next class of The Culinary School in both Newark and Milford begins Monday, January 13, 2020. Click here to learn more! 

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