Dalicia Perkins has worked in the food service industry since she was 15. Her first job was at a water ice/ice cream shop. Since then she has worked in the University of Delaware’s dining halls, as a dietary aid for a nursing home, Wawa, Restaurant Depot, and most recently, on board the Plum Pit Food Truck and their brick and mortar store, the Plum Bistro.
Now at 25, Dalicia is ready for the next step in her career. “I was at a fork in the road in my life,” she explains. “I knew I needed to further my education and hone in on my skills.”
She admits that she was nervous at first. “School is really not for me,” she says. “I was worried about me falling off or losing my focus.”
Dalicia has found the 14-week accelerated training at The Culinary School to be a perfect fit for her.
“They work on these specific things that you need throughout your career,” she explains. “School didn’t get progressively harder as it went on, so I guess they made it easier for me to want to come back every day.”
Dalicia says that learning about The Culinary School has been a blessing. “That was the door that I was waiting to open, and I am definitely going through it,” she says.
Thanks to the support of Executive Chef Tim Hunter and Chef Instructor Sean McNeice, Dalicia is able to associate tasks she has been doing for 10 years with the technical terms.
“They are very experienced,” she says. “There hasn’t been any questions that I have asked that they were not able to answer… you can pick their brains.”
Life skills training with Workforce Training Manager, Jessica Neal, has been most valuable, she says, especially interacting and team building.
“Generally at work you might get hit with your own task and it’s on you to do,” she explains. “Here you have to make sure we are all okay and getting through it. It’s helped me with that, because I am more of a loner. I want to stick to myself and get my work done. They have taught me to be a team person.”
Dalicia is proud of her culinary creations. For her mystery box kitchen midterm exam, she received a box with salmon, asparagus and rice and prepared a brown sugar garlic glaze for the salmon.
“I even went home and made it for my dad. He was impressed,” she says.
Outside of class, she prepared a stewed apple recipe for the Plum Bistro that was added to the Sunday brunch menu.
Five years from now, Dalicia hopes to be in business for herself.
“I party plan right now on the side,” she explains. “As far as food, I would like to cater. I want to do the best of both worlds. Bring the food with you. The food is the easy part to me. The party planning is something I have a passion for. It brings me excitement. If I can have both of those things going on I would be grateful. I could say, ‘I made it, I reached my goal in life.'”
Dalicia encourages those considering The Culinary School to apply.
“It’s worth it,” she advises. “If you work ethic is up there and you feel like you can be dedicated to this, do it. Definitely do it. It is worth your time and energy, and you come out more knowledge and better skills.”
Interested in a career in the food service industry? The next class of The Culinary School in Newark and Milford begins Monday, May 14. Click here to apply.