Lavender Artwell went to social services to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and was happy to learn about a job readiness program of Delaware Health and Social Services.
This employment and training program called Delaware WONDER (Work Opportunity Networks to Develop Employment Readiness) is led by Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Social Services (DHSS), which administers the SNAP Program in Delaware. It offers targeted career tracks in construction, culinary arts and manufacturing and broad-based job placement.
Lavender opted to follow the culinary track.
“My mom and grand mom have always been big cookers,” she explains. “I enjoyed working in the kitchen with them.”
Previously, Lavender worked as a Provider Service Representative for an insurance company.
“I have always wanted to do it [culinary arts], but I never put forth effort,” she admits. “But once the opportunity was presented, I went on and gave it a try.”
This 2008 Padua Academy graduate has aspirations of one day opening her own food truck or juice bar. For now, she is learning as much as she can from Chefs Tim Hunter and Donnie Stephens.
“They don’t expect you to know everything,” she points out. “They break everything down. They’ll show me again, and, of course, we get a lot of practice in.”
In addition to kitchen practice, life skills instruction is teaching Lavender “to have a good work ethic and more mindful and respectful of things” she does.
Financial literacy classes from $tand By Me are also helpful. “I don’t think I spend money, but sometimes I spend without thinking. That part helped me,” she points out.
She is currently working at La Fia twice a week as part of her internship experience. “Everything is fresh,” she says. “I help the chef make all of the bread… The dough is from scratch, and we bake it.”
Lavender’s personal La Fia recommendations – Crispy Fried Shrimp and Crab Croquettes and the Turkey Reuben.
She will graduate with her class in January. Upon graduation, she hopes to find employment as a line cook.
Ten years from now,”I will strive to become a chef and become one of those chefs that people look up to and they know my name for a certain dish or for the restaurant I own,” she says.
The next culinary class in Newark and Milford begins February 13. Applications are currently being accepted.
Lavender’s advice to potential students, “Learn a few things, both of the chefs are very nice, it’s a good environment, and my classmates are really good too. There’s good teamwork; I would definitely tell them to go for it.”
To learn more about The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, please click here.