Growing up Tyriekus Collick got some great advice: “If you want to eat, you better learn how to cook.” So the 2018 Caesar Rodney High School graduate took those words to heart and learned some basic cooking skills at home. “I watched my father and my grandmother,” he said, noting that his favorite thing to make at home is quiche.
Collick also studied culinary arts in high school, and although he enjoyed the experience, he found employment in the construction industry after graduation. He soon realized that kind of work was not something he wanted to pursue.
Collick arrived at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School program last month with some experience, but he wanted a better foundation to launch his career in the culinary industry. The Culinary School is a 14-week program for unemployed, underemployed and adults in transition. Students spend time in the classroom and learn hands-on skills in a high-end commercial kitchen. The last two weeks of the course includes a two-week paid work experience in the industry. While some students are self-referred and enrolled, other students enter the program through the Department of Correction, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, and other community-based organizations.
“My goal is to pass and to get more involved,” he said. “I want to better myself, and this is a much better environment to be in.”
Collick is very enthusiastic about learning how to prepare new dishes. “I want to learn everything. Right now, we are learning main dishes and entrees, and later it will be desserts,” he said.
During the first month of school, Collick and his classmates have already learned to make the five mother sauces that become the foundation for many entrees. Students prepare for the ServSafe ® exam, practice knife skills and have had hands-on experience at a catering event.
“I go home and read the recipes because I want to learn how to do things without the recipes,” he said.
He’s also become an informal recruiter for future Culinary School classes. “I’ve told my friends about this, and also my little brother – he’s still in high school – to apply because there’s not as much pressure as in college,” Collick explained.
“This program has really helped me, and it’s only the beginning. I already feel changes in myself. It gives me drive to be around good people. They want to see you succeed, and I feel safe. It’s a great environment,” he added. “My grandmother always said to speak from the heart, and I’m speaking from the heart.”
Click here learn more about the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School and additional workforce development programs through Delaware Food Works.