Culinary Spotlight: Andrew Morley and Cocina Lolo

February 12, 2016

Prior to enrolling at The Culinary School, Andrew Morley (right in photo) sat behind a computer selling car insurance.

“I was just going through the motions,” he said. “Graduate from high school, graduate college (he has a degree in English), get a job at a big company, sit at a desk behind a computer.”

It wasn’t the path he wanted to continue on so he enrolled in the Food Bank of Delaware’s 14-week culinary arts training program called The Culinary School.

Andrew arrived at class with no formal kitchen experience. He did, however, have experience in the hospitality field, working as a server, front desk hotel clerk and a concierge.

Looking back on his culinary training, Andrew points out that learning how a kitchen works and the opportunity to become ServSafe certified were both valuable components of the training.

“That’s super important,” he pointed out.

In the training kitchen, Andrew stood out among his peers and was placed at La Fia in Wilmington to work under Executive Chef and Owner Bryan Sikora.

Andrew’s talents did not go unnoticed. Upon graduation, he was offered employment with the restaurant.

Andrew is still working under Sikora full-time, but has moved one block away to Sikora’s new Mexican restaurant, Cocina Lolo.

With a new bakery and a soon-to-open bar, The Merchant, Sikora is making his mark on the Wilmington dining scene, and Andrew is thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow under the James Beard Award semi-finalist.

Sikora’s sous chef Kyle Beebe oversees kitchens at both La Fia and Cocina Lolo and has seen Andrew’s growth first hand.

“Andrew has been here for years and has been good for us to have on the team,” said Beebe.

In addition, Beebe supervises other Culinary School interns who are placed at Cocina Lolo or La Fia.

“We are looking for people who have a head on their shoulders, aren’t afraid to work and grow and basically just have that hunger to learn and continue through this career in a serious fashion,” he said.

Andrew has demonstrated all of these qualities.

“The interns that come through here all have great personalities and that’s a plus,” said Beebe. “Also, of course, we look for that needle in the haystack that we may hire through the process.”

And Andrew was the needle in the La Fia haystack.

“The Culinary School completely changed my life, absolutely,” Andrew said.

Andrew encourages others who are considering a career in the food service industry to enroll in The Culinary School.

“Go for it. Don’t sit on the fence,” he advises. “Go to school every day, learn as much as you can. Then when you get your internship, get there early every day, work hard, and you’ll have a great job.”

He adds, “Take it seriously. Take school as if it’s a job. You are getting up and going to work every day.”

Looking down the road five years, Andrew sees himself working and advancing in the kitchen.

“I might change gears with the type of restaurant,” he said. “If I were to open a restaurant, I would just like to cook good pot pies and mac and cheese, meatloaf and delicious stuff like that.”

For now, he is enjoys working in the kitchen of Cocina Lolo and continuing to practice is culinary craft.

“The Food Bank just totally changed the trajectory of my life,” he points out. “I am a thousand times happier now than before I learned my culinary skills at the Food Bank. Life is good.”

Ready for a change? Click here to learn more about The Culinary School.

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