Culinary School training helps home cooks achieve professional status

February 1, 2021

Like many of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School students, LaMont Scott Jr. believes the training he is receiving will support his dreams and long-term goals. The Delaware native and former Florida resident describes the workforce development program as “an opportunity meant for me.”

As part of Delaware Food Works,  the Culinary School is a 14-week program for unemployed, underemployed, ex-offenders, individuals with disabilities and those in career transition that teaches basic and high-end kitchen skills, ServSafe ® training, and life skills, culminating with a 2-week paid work experience. In FY20, 53 students graduated, and since 2002, more than 700 students have completed the program.

Of course, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has forced some modifications  so that students and chef instructors can meet their goals. Students now receive classroom instruction via Zoom, then participate in hands-on kitchen instruction at our facility three days each week. This class started in November and will graduate in March.

LaMont said he’s enjoying the process. “I’ve cooked out of my house, but I wasn’t formally trained. I worked for catering companies, doing special events like the Olympics in Atlanta, but I was never trained. Cooking is like art to me; you get to create,” he said.

Despite his experience in his own kitchen, he quickly recognized his lack of professional skills. “I don’t let my bad habits interfere with learning,” he added. “I’m 61, and I want to learn. Coming here makes it easier. It’s amazing; I’ve never worked in an industrial kitchen.”

“I’ve always enjoyed cooking,” said LaMont, describing his specialties as mix of Delaware, Georgia, and Florida tastes. “I’m a rib guy, and I have a process to take the fat out,” he said. He also likes to prepare turkey wings and necks so they are tasty, but not full of fat.

“This has been major learning for me. After working with Chef Tish, (one of the Food Bank’s chef instructors) I’ll be able to make my own sauce from scratch and not use other people’s. My dream is to have a healthy food truck, and my concept is ‘Eat like me. Look like me.’ Food floating in grease is not healthy. I am what I eat,” said LaMont.

Visit www.fbd.org to learn more about The Culinary School and other Delaware Food Works programs.

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