Under the watchful eyes of Chefs Tish and Tim, small groups of students enrolled in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford and Newark practiced their knife skills on Monday.
During the semester’s first two-hour lab session at the Milford site, the students finessed the proper techniques required to chop peppers, potatoes, apples, and onions. Meanwhile, upstate, the Newark students were busy chopping onions and celery. In the pre-COVID-19 world, this hands-on instruction would have been considered a typical, routine part of culinary school life.
In today’s world, it’s almost a treat – at least a break from a Zoom room – and an opportunity to meet classmates and instructors face-to-face. This Culinary School class started in mid-July – remotely, meaning that students did not come to the Food Bank’s classroom or kitchen for instruction. They learned from home.
They interacted through a web-based instructional platform for their orientation and life skills lessons. “It’s a challenge,” said Executive Chef Tim Hunter, who told the students early on that self-motivation on their part would be essential for success.
Despite the challenges, the students remained optimistic, welcoming this opportunity to learn basic skills required in the culinary field. Wayne, a U.S. Navy veteran who resides at Home of the Brave near Milford, worked as a truck driver, but when he heard about the Food Bank’s Culinary School, he seized the opportunity “to do something that I love. I enjoy cooking, and I love to eat good food. This is an opportunity for me to learn different preparations, and I really want to learn more presentations,” he said.
Another student, Stephanie, said she “always had a passion for cooking, and I’m trying to improve myself.” This Harrington resident became more familiar with The Culinary School while volunteering with at the Food Bank. Although she’s currently unemployed, she is trying to find a job while attending the remote training.
Lewes resident Bradford describes “cooking is my passion. I really want to get back to cooking again.” He said he’s had a couple of false starts, but is eager to succeed through the program.
While instructors continue to build a library of educational resources – videos and PowerPoints – students will come into the kitchen labs twice each week and also studying for the ServSafe® exam before their October graduation.
Visit www.fbd.org to learn more about the Food Bank’s workforce development programs.