Eight students start new careers in the culinary field

March 24, 2022

Tears and cheers filled the room as family, friends, community dignitaries, Food Bank staff, supporters and others joined to celebrate the accomplishments of the combined Newark and Milford culinary classes!

Eight students overcame both personal and pandemic challenges to successfully complete the 14-week training program.

The graduates include:

  • Jacob Armstrong
  • Allen Burke
  • Vernon Dixon
  • Cynthia Neal
  • Sarah Salgado
  • Angela Smith
  • Jacqueline Toner
  • Althea Wilkinson

The students began the program back in December with a variety of comfort levels in the kitchen. Some had previously worked in the industry, while others admitted to only being able to microwave food. Despite differences, these graduates departed the program today with not only a new career path, but a culinary family.

Xavier Teixido, Owner of Harry’s Hospitality Group, provided inspiring keynote remarks for the graduates. He advised them to keep showing up and doing the work, “You will determine your own success. You will determine where you want to go… there are so many places you can go.”

Some students are already going places and have obtained employment at Harry’s Savoy, Aramark, Two Fat Guys, the North East Yacht Club and more.

Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Executive Chef Tim Hunter and Chef Instructors Ron Roll and Tim Badamshin and the guidance of Sheliah Smith and Michelle Cephas, the students spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills and passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to ServSafe ® certification and completing a two-week work experience, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.

“It’s been a great 14 weeks,” said Hunter. “Every class is different, but this class showed up every day. That’s the most important thing, to show up every day. You don’t have to be the best cook, but if you show up every day, we can teach you.”

Upon receiving their certificates of completion, each new graduate had an opportunity to address the audience and thank their supporters.

“I am just so grateful to be here,” said Cynthia Neal. “Before coming here, I went through a whole lot. I just thank and praise God that I am able to be here to do what I do.”

Cynthia also praised her classmates, “They are family. We started together as one to get through it.”

“This is a great program,” said Jacob Armstrong. “I started working at a yacht club, and I decided I could learn a lot more, you can always learn more, so I decided to come here to expand my skills.”

“I want to thank the Food Bank of Delaware for this experience,” said Vernon Dixon. “Thank you, Chef Tish, for getting me through.”

Angie Smith added, “I am just grateful for this opportunity. For the past two-and-a-half years I was in a slump. I had lost my mother in 2018. Once she passed, it was like what’s next. I didn’t know which way to go. I was down. This program to me was a re-entry.”

Congratulations, graduates!

To learn more about free training programs at the Food Bank of Delaware, click here.





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