Owner Brian Ashby opened 8th & Union Kitchen in Wilmington last spring – just in time for Culinary School graduate Brandon Spencer to begin work.
Known by fellow class 39 classmates as Spence, the opportunity to attend the 14-week training program was exactly what he needed.
“The Culinary School helped me out a great deal,” he explained. “I was struggling through a lot of things. I was incarcerated at the time. They helped me transition and get what I needed. They gave me placement and helped me get in here. I have been here ever since.”
Spence gained employment at 8th & Union before the doors even opened. Former Culinary School Chef Instructor Sean McNiece texted Ashby asking if he was in need of employees for the new restaurant.
He got right to work even before the restaurant opened.
“We are looking for employees who are on time, working hard and taking ownership,” said Ashby. “Brandon seemed eager and seemed like a hard worker.”
Since graduating in May, Spence has been working five to seven days a week at the restaurant. His schedule varies between daytime and evening shifts. On Sunday he is in the kitchen for brunch.
With 14 years experience in the food service industry and formal training at The Culinary School, Spence is still learning new things every day. 8th & Union Kitchen’s menu features Southeast Asian fair with a contemporary flair.
“The food is different,” he points out. “We use different ingredients that I haven’t come across before.”
His favorite item on the menu is the calamari.
Like any new restaurant, it takes time to iron out all of the wrinkles and get the right people on board. Spence and just one other employee have been with the restaurant since the beginning.
“I have faith in it,” he said.
“He got to be with this restaurant from the start,” said Anna McDermott, who oversees The Culinary School in Newark. “He sees a different aspect and had an opportunity that not a lot of students get. Spence is still here and that just indicates how good he is.”
When asked what was most valuable about The Culinary School, Spence said without hesitation, “Structure. I needed some stability.”
Looking ahead five years, he hopes to own his own food truck. But for now, he is thankful for the opportunity to work at 8th & Union and get back on his feet.
“Everybody deserves a shot,” said Ashby. “Spence turned out to be a good thing for us.”
“This was definitely a life changer. I would say that,” Spence said.
Ready to for a life change? Apply now to attend The Culinary School! Click here to learn more.