Gigi England does it all. She is a doula, Client Service Coordinator at the New Castle County Hope Center and a full-time student at our Delaware Food Works culinary training program. With a wide range of talents and passions, her future is certainly bright.
“This was a personal journey for me,” she admits. “I was divinely guided. I wasn’t even looking at the time. I received an email about L.O.G.I.C. and The Culinary School and reached out to Lisa [Workforce Training Program Manager], we kept in contact. Things came up. She told me to keep in contact if I can’t make the November class. I checked in again. I got in and it’s been a great journey for me.”
Gigi’s path to the culinary field has certainly been a journey. A former member of the military, Gigi spent much of her career in Corporate America. Time in the kitchen has always been an after-work stress reliever. “My great-grandmother taught me how to cook,” she says. “I’ve been cooking since I’ve been walking.”
The Culinary School is providing her an opportunity to make a career out of her passions for nutrition and cooking.
“Nutrition has always been on the forefront,” Gigi explains. “I grew up in the south, so soul food is soul food … it’s just not healthy all the time.”
Gigi takes a holistic approach to nutrition and health, “I want to grow food, I want to prepare it, and serve it.”
Upon graduation from the culinary training program, she says she would love to pair her role as a doula with meal prep services for pregnant and post-partum women.
“I just had a birth [last week], so I am running on fumes. March to September is peak season,” she explains. “I tend to have one every other month. It’s keeping me on my toes.”
As a student in Chef Instructor Tim Hunter’s training kitchen, Gigi is learning so much. She washed dishes while in college so she feels a level of comfort in the industrial kitchen, but each day she learns something new. “I didn’t realize I was using the knife wrong,” she admits. “I have increased my productivity.”
Fabricating meats and making sauces from scratch have also been helpful, especially as she eyes going into business for herself, “I can save some money by buying the whole chicken and cutting if up myself. And sauces, convenience is the thing, especially for mothers. They don’t have the time to crush tomatoes, but I can help. That can be one of the services I provide.”
In addition to learning skills that are part of the training curriculum, Gigi is also working hands-on with the Kattie Fox, Food Bank of Delaware Production Associate, to make rolls and breads for the Delaware Food Works’ weekly soup sale. Prior to enrolling in the program, Gigi was a regular soup customer.
She is thankful that family brought her back to Delaware and the chance to enroll in the program. “It’s been a whirlwind coming back. It was good timing and being around family was perfect” she says. “I want to thank Miss Lisa and especially Chef Tim. Everyone has been really supportive. I never fathomed starting over. This is a start over for me, but it’s so personal for me. I am so glad I took the step.”
The next 14-week Delaware Food Works culinary training program begins in August and Gigi’s advice to individuals considering the program, “Go for it.”
“It’s going to be a journey. There is going to be work… lots of work,” she explains. “If it’s there and you have the vision to do it, just do it. Don’t talk yourself out of it. You are just going to learn so much from it. It’s going to be beneficial to you. You can also have the opportunity to become ServSafe. Restaurant industries are opening back up. Let’s get into it.”
To learn more about The Culinary School or to apply online for the free 14-week training program, please click here.