It’s not often that the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School draws students to class who have prior connections.
Geraldine White and her daughter-in-law, Ivana Nock, both Bridgeville residents, decided to sign up for the program at the Milford site in September. They are nearing the final weeks of the 14-week training program, working at paid work experiences until graduation on Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tish Badamshin and the guidance of Ruthann Messick, Workforce Training Program manager, students develop their skills and passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification and completing a two-week internship, these students will be prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.
Like many culinary students, Geraldine has previous connections to the food service world. She worked as a cafeteria supervisor for 15 years, and she realized that the industry could offer other professional opportunities.
“I want to enhance my skills,” she said, noting that she was interested in catering, or perhaps owning a food truck, where she can prepare and sell diverse cuisine.
This mother of five and grandmother to 9 – almost 10 – grandchildren says she also enjoys the opportunity to do some hands-on learning at the culinary school.
“I never knew how to do the mother sauces. I knew how to cut, but I’m learning how to do new soups and sauces,” Geraldine added.
“I love it. This is what I do. I love to cook, and my family knows my house is a restaurant. They call to come over and eat,” she said.
Ivana, her daughter-in-law, has been a stay-at-home mom to a 3-year-old son, and her second child (Geraldine’s 10th grandbaby) is due in March.
In addition to family ties, she too professes a love for cooking. “Baking has been my passion forever,” Ivana said.
It’s a hobby she started with her own mother, and after losing her mother to breast cancer Ivana continues to bake in her memory.
“I sell cake pops for the holidays, but I wanted to learn culinary skills,” she said. So Ivana contacted the Food Bank to inquire about Culinary School opportunities. “I was amazed. Ruthann (Messick) got back to me so quick.”
Of course, Ivana shared the information, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.
Like Geraldine, Ivana is pleased that she is “learning the proper way” to make sauces and food from scratch – tasty and interesting new foods, like ricotta cheese.
“Wow! It is so simple and so quick,” she said.
Speaking of new, Ivana has learned the importance of trying and tasting different foods.
“Before class, I would judge a book by its cover. Now I will try new things. The butternut squash wrap . . . that was like a party in your mouth,” she said.
And there’s been another perk as well – an even better relationship with her mother-in-law.
“My mother-in-law is an amazing cook. She said we should take this together, and I’m sure we will eventually do something together. Through this experience we have gotten a lot closer. We ride together, so I’ve gotten to know her even more,” said Ivana.
Click here to learn more about The Culinary School. The next class in Milford starts Jan. 14.