Just six months after graduating from the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford, Meg Thompson uses her passion for baking every day in her workplace: Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.
Thompson, a Dover resident, is also a full-time mom and an international opera singer. She’s a creative person, and Chef James Kaiser Jr. offers her plenty of opportunities to explore new recipes and decorating techniques in a kitchen that provides baked goods for Sweet Perks, as well as other eateries at the casino, conference center, and hotel.
“She’s doing a great job. She’s been a shining star since she’s been here,” the chef said.
Thompson, too, is proud of being welcomed to conquer new challenges, including holiday cakes for Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day cookies and cakes, and Easter treats.
She started her career at Dover Downs in the commissary production center, one of the hubs of the culinary world. “We knock it out, produce for events, make sandwiches, make breads,” she said.
Through her career in the international opera world, including living in Europe, Thompson knew “I always had an affinity for baking. I had exposures to different cultures, and I enjoy personal entertaining,” she added.
After starting employment at Dover Downs, her first chef told her, “You need to learn cakes.” and the rest is history. Chef James came onboard in December. He, too, recognized Thompson’s baking expertise. “He told me, ‘I want you to be my think tank.’ He sees talent in people, and he draws it out, so he made me a specialty chef. He asks for recipes, and I give him ideas. We are a good collaborative team. He is a master chef. When he sees a weakness, he says ‘Let’s work on this.’ He is always pushing me to do more,” Thompson said.
She’s logged photos on her phone to illustrate her expertise: she created a pink champagne cake with a raspberry center glaze and Chambord frosting for Valentine’s Day and a green velvet cake with Jameson whiskey frosting for St. Patrick’s Day. Rather than typical, tasteless sugar cookies for St. Patrick’s Day, she designed shamrock-shaped butter cookies iced in green and white, then bagged with a gold coin. All were sell-out successes!
Thompson credits her education at the Culinary School with helping to get her on the road to success. “There’s no way I would have had the experience to come in at this level, an industrial, commercial kitchen, without the support of Ruthann (Messick, Workforce Training Manager) and Chef Tish.”
In February, Thompson was nominated for an Excellence Award. “I’m proud of that. It’s a nice thing. I feel like the powers-that-be are watching me. My talent and my passion are being observed. It’s been very positive.”
The Culinary School offers 14-weeks of training, 12 weeks in the classroom and kitchen, plus a two-week paid internship. Students are also receive ServSafe ® training, and graduates are prepared to enter the workplace.
New culinary classes start in both Milford and Newark on May 14. For more information on how to register, click here.