Culinary School Spotlight: Tamika Gary

March 29, 2017

They say the third time’s the charm, but for Tamika Gary the second time is her charm.

Tamika is thankful for a second opportunity to complete her training at The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. The first time she wasn’t able to finish, but she is committed to completing this go round.

Tamika first learned about the program through her social worker at the Delaware Division of Social Services. “I was explaining to her how I wanted to further my education. She told me about the Delaware WONDER program. We set up an initial interview and I am here.”

This employment and training program called Delaware WONDER (Work Opportunity Networks to Develop Employment Readiness) is led by Delaware Health and Social Services Division of Social Services (DHSS), which administers the SNAP Program in Delaware. It offers targeted career tracks in construction, culinary arts and  manufacturing and broad-based job placement.

Now in week seven of fourteen, Tamika is learning a lot in both the kitchen and classroom.

She says that learning to cut a whole chicken was valuable for both professional and personal reasons.

“I would have never done that on my own at home in a million years,” she admits. “It taught me how I can save money, buy my own chicken, cut it into 8 pieces and work with it that way.”

So far, learning knife skills, how to cut food in different forms and shapes, proper temperature and food safety have been beneficial.

The skills helped Tamika serve as the class’ lunchtime sous chef in week five. Each week a different student leads lunchtime meal preparation. She says it was a great opportunity to show the chefs her talent.

Tamika is not new to the food service industry though. She has worked at Popeye’s Chicken, Au Bon Pain at the Christiana Hospital and at A.I. duPont Hospital for Children as a nurse’s assistant.

Food service is her passion though. “I love cooking,” she says.

Some of her favorite foods to prepare and eat are Soul, Italian and Spanish foods.

Upon graduation, Tamika hopes to land a job as a chef at a local restaurant. In ten years she hopes to own her own restaurant.

For now she remains committed to finishing the program she started.

“It’s a really great program,” she says.

She enjoys it so much that she is encouraging others to apply. “As students, we have the opportunity to get out there and explain to everyone what’s going on and what The Culinary School has to offer.”

Tamika says she is grateful for The Culinary School.

“I have grown and I continue to grow,” she explains. “I appreciate the fact that they gave me an opportunity the second go around and go to school. My goal is to make myself happy, but to make them happy because of all of the support I get from the program.”

To learn more about The Culinary School and to apply for the next class beginning on June 5 in both Newark and Milford, click here.


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