Graduation gets emotional – in a good way; pass the tissues

December 19, 2023

Happy tears flowed this morning at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Class of 2023 Milford Culinary School graduation. This eight-member class will go down in history as the 37th – and final class – to graduate from the Mattlind Drive facility.

Grand opening ceremonies for the Food Bank’s new 70,000- square-foot facility at 102 Delaware Veterans Blvd. are planned for Monday, Jan. 15, 2024. But that’s another story.

Today’s graduates were: Bryan Anton, Matthew Cain, Danae Henry, Nathalie Honore, Frederick Kravitz, Alexandria Pasterniak, Kayana Peacock, and Kamya Tolson.

Chef Felix Burgos, an alumnus of this program in December 2018, offered keynote remarks. Now a chef at Bally’s Dover Casino Resort, Burgos told the new grads, their families, friends, and invited guests, that “the program changed my life.”

Like many of the students who train in the 14-week culinary program, this Brooklyn, NY-native dealt with challenges and hardships before enrolling. He left Brooklyn and came to Milford to live with his father. He had two children, and was homeless – and hopeless – for a while. “I was living the life I didn’t want to live. I persevered to find this place. It was family-oriented – exactly what I needed and what I missed,” he said.

He realized the training was more than learning how to cook. “We cooked. We made a mess, and we had to clean up – spit shine the floors every Friday. It built structure. It takes time to understand things,” he told the new graduates. “At the end of the day, what you put in is what you get out.”

Burgos encouraged the graduates to persevere, to set goals, explaining that he sets personal quarterly goals. “I’m trying to get my own business, my own house,” he said.

The Food Bank’s Executive Chef Tim Hunter noted the training “changed their lives.”  He offered a few words of encouragement. “This is a special day. It’s just the beginning; you have to keep going,” he said.

As the graduates stepped to the podium to accept their certificates of completion and ServSafe ® certification, they also recognized personal achievement and growth. “I learned so much about myself,” said Danae and Kamya. They thanked the Food Bank staff, and some pledged to move forward with confidence.

“I’m going to be the youngest greatest chef in the world,” said Kamya.

The Food Bank’s President and CEO Cathy Kanefsky told the class they were ambassadors as well. “You represent food for tomorrow. We provide people with food when they have none, and we help people find their way, find a job. We all need somebody in this life to believe in us.”

New Culinary School classes start Jan. 16 in Newark and Milford. Visit to learn more and to register.

Congratulations, graduates!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *