Persistence pays off for Newark culinary student

January 18, 2017

Steven Eatmon spent 18 years of his life behind the wheel of a tractor trailer, but  when an on-the-job injury left him unable to work for more than a year he started to experiment in the kitchen.

“While I was home… I can’t just sit still, so I started out volunteering, helping out at the church with dinners and things of that nature, and it just blossomed from there,” he said.

Over the past six years, Steven has worked in a variety of positions in the food service industry in addition to volunteering at the Sunday Breakfast Mission and the Rick Vanstory Resource Center.

Despite his experience, he admits there was a lot he didn’t know about the culinary field. Steven read about The Culinary School in The News Journal and decided it was something he should pursue in order to advance in the field.

Steven applied to The Culinary School and was offered a spot even though the session had already started.

“They were going  to let me start, but the first day I got a flat tire, second time, something weird happen,” he explained. “So they were like, ‘listen hold off and come back in September.’ It was okay. It was the second week in September and  I happened to be out this way and I drove in here and talked to Lynda [Culinary School Program Manager]. She had my folder on my desk when I walked in and she said ‘I was just about to call you to see if you were still interested.'”

Steven’s persistence paid off. He accepted a spot in the class and was also offered a scholarship.

“I had no idea how I was going to pay for it, I just knew I wanted to be in the class, and I would have figured it out one way or the other,” he said.

In addition to attending class at The Culinary School, Steven is also interning at Hartefeld National Golf Club.

He interns every Monday and Tuesday under the guidance of Executive Chef Lou Thompson.

“I am learning a lot,” he pointed out.  “I ask a million questions all day long, and he is very very patient, and he just keeps answering questions.”

When he’s not at school or Hartefeld, Steven works at the Stanton ShopRite in the evening. He hopes his formal training will enable him to advance at the grocer.

“I am developing some of my skills..  life skills…. flavor skills. I am learning better time management… how to pull a big gathering together over a couple of days instead of all at one time,” he said.

Both kitchen and life skills are proving to be beneficial to Steven.

Despite being busy, Steven continues to volunteer at both the Sunday Breakfast Mission and the Rick Vanstory Resource Center. He said his training helped in the preparation of Thanksgiving dinner at the Resource Center.

“There was a time where both of those places were really important to me, and this is my way of giving back.”

Life skills are helping him to look at situations differently.

“I am finding myself to be more patient, more tolerant. Not everyone knows the things I know. Not everyone is going to have the same pride in work that I have. I just have to continue to do what I do regardless of what others are doing,” he explained.

Steven knows the culinary training is going to help him advance. In five years he hopes to be on his way to becoming a sous chef.

“Even if I was able to get to the next level, I know it will take a lot more years had I not enrolled into a program like this,” he said.

Steven admits that working in the food service industry is hard and it’s not for everyone.

For those considering a career in food service, he advises, “I say before you even come here, look at what you really want to do. As much as I would encourage anybody to further their education, cooking is not for everyone. It takes a certain kind of mentality, attitude… to be willing to give up 16-18 hours in the day. I am doing it now and that’s just between going to school and going to work. I am looking at a 13+ hour day being here at 9, I won’t get off until 11.”

Ready for a career in the food service industry? The next class of The Culinary School in both Newark and Milford begins Monday, February 13. To learn more or to apply online, please click here

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