Culinary School Spotlight: Justin Roundtree

June 15, 2016

By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

It might be an understatement to say that Justin Roundtree loves the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School.

His enthusiasm for the program resonates both in his voice and his body language: it’s obviously a great fit.

Justin is a student in the Milford branch’s inaugural Project WONDER program. Project WONDER is a USDA pilot to provide SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly food stamps) employment training opportunities. Delaware Health and Social Services was awarded an $18.8 million grant to collaborate with community partners in order to train adults for careers in industries such as food service, manufacturing, construction and more.

A self-described “military brat,” Justin most recently moved to Delaware from Florida, and learned about Project WONDER when he applied for SNAP benefits.

“I said ‘Sign me up!’,” he said.

Justin’s obviously a go-getter because he works at Home Depot from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. and then attends culinary classes at the Milford Branch each weekday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

His work history is strong on customer service and retail. He names previous employers, including fast food companies, big box stores and airports.

He believes his training here at the Food Bank will help him personally and professionally. He praised Chef Instructor Tish Badamshin, the class field trips, and the hands-on opportunities, such as working at Dover Downs during a recent NASCAR weekend.

“I absolutely love it. I have identified the propensity I have for cooking. I love to eat, and this has given me more fire. I gone from the microwave to saying ‘Let me use the oven.’ and ‘Let me use the stove.’,” he said.

Even as a child, Justin said he enjoyed trying new and different foods, and The Culinary School has expanded those opportunities.

“Growing up, when I went to the store with my mother, I got to pick a treat. My treats were in the fruit aisle, like star fruit and pomegranates,” he said.

Most recently, Justin started a new job in the at Dogfish Head Brewpub in downtown Rehoboth Beach, and he’s every excited.

“I like their off-centered brand. I’m definitely off centered!,” he added.

He’s also eager to complete his ServSafe certification as well.

“I am lucky because this is a small class. I can become a cook, a chef. I want to grow my own brand, keep the ball rolling. The Food Bank has taken me in, and I’m willing to work for it. Hopefully, it will allow me to break the cycle. I think it’s awesome.”

For more information on The Culinary School, please click here!

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