Felix is grateful to have found a second chance and the possibilities that a new career can offer at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School’s Milford site.
This Milford resident has weathered – and survived – many challenges, and he believes learning proper culinary skills will help him reach and achieve his goals, provide a comfortable life for his two young sons, and be a role model for others.
A native of Brooklyn, Felix moved here about 10 years ago with his father following his parents’ divorce. He had to leave high school to support himself through a series of entry level labor jobs, but a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease at age 18 left him very sick and unable to work.
He went back to New York City for medical treatments, but when his disability insurance expired he returned to Delaware and found employment in landscaping and roofing. When his chronic illness resurfaced, his doctor told Felix that he would be unable to continue with work that required heavy lifting.
Disappointed but resilient, Felix did some online research and discovered the Food Bank’s Culinary School in Milford. The Culinary School is a 14-week career transition program that teaches basic and high-end kitchen skills, ServSafe training, and life-skills. It culminates with a two-week paid internship.
“I walked in here and met Ruthann (the Food Banks’ Workforce Training Program Manager), and she signed me up,” he said.
“I’ve had a tough life, and now I’m happy to pursue my dreams. Ten years ago, I would have said baseball was my dream, but food was in the back of my mind, always,” said Felix. He remembers watching his mother cook while growing up.
“I would ask her what is this, what is that. Maybe I was just being nosy,” he joked.
“My dream is to own a restaurant, and to give back. I always wanted to help people. I know what it’s like not to have things that other people have. I do not want my kids to go through what I went through,” said Felix.
This dream restaurant, or food truck, would serve Puerto Rican food, reflecting his heritage.
Meanwhile, Felix is about half-way through the 14-week culinary training, looking forward to a December graduation. “I think this (the culinary school) is great. It’s giving people like me a second chance. After what the doctor said, I don’t have to sit home, and I can solidify my kids’ future.”
Click here for more information on Delaware Food Works, the workforce development initiative of the Food Bank of Delaware with training programs in food service, warehousing and agriculture.