Alicia Cowan didn’t anticipate having an opportunity to attend a culinary training program. In fact, she had spent two years studying to become a teacher. She decided that teaching was not for her and landed a job at a local restaurant.
“I didn’t know how to cook before I got this job,” she admits. “But someone gave me the opportunity to cook.”
Fortunately, to help advance her skills, Alicia learned about The Culinary School through her husband, Shawn Cowan, a 2016 graduate of The Culinary School. The two met after Shawn’s graduation from The Culinary School while working at the restaurant together.
She jokingly said, “‘I told him, ‘if you can do it, I can do it.'”
Alicia applied and was accepted to class and is using her newly-gained knowledge at the restaurant.
“Cooking is not about cooking,” she explained. “It’s about the techniques that you learn and basically food safety. How to keep food safe is most of what cooking is. You don’t have to actually be like Gordon Ramsey, a perfect, wonderful cook, to be good at cooking.”
Right now Alicia and her classmates are in week six. They’ve already had the opportunity to cater a special event at Kingswood Community Center in Wilmington and two Food Bank of Delaware supporter events.
By the end of the 14-week training program, Alicia “hopes to get more experience and more knowledge about things that go into cooking like how to mix ingredients and how to take nothing and make it something.”
In addition to kitchen skills like how to use a knife and prepare the five mother sauces, students are learning life skills like financial literacy and how to budget.
So far, Alicia has had a positive experience and recommends the program to others looking to further their culinary knowledge.
“It’s better than any school I’ve been to,” she said. “Cooking is a necessity, even if you just want to cook for your family or you want to go into a restaurant. You can still get the knowledge and keep your family safe when you cook for them… it’s a skill that everyone should know.”
Alicia is thankful for the opportunity to attend The Culinary School, especially since her tuition was covered by generous corporate sponsors. She is still paying student loans from the two years she spent in college. “You don’t have to pay student loans when you come here,” she said.
Looking down the road, Alicia hopes to be running a kitchen as a head chef in five years.
Students who attend The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware come from diverse backgrounds. Some students have prior cooking experience like Alicia, while others do not. Having experience is not required. What’s required is that you’re willing to learn, show up on time and be passionate about the industry. Ready for a career change? Click here to learn more about The Culinary School!