The Culinary School builds confidence as well as develops important skills

July 11, 2018

Kenny was no stranger to the food service industry before he enrolled in the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford. This Dover resident worked in fast food kitchens and then found a full-time job at TGI Friday’s.

But when a friend told him about opportunity for formal training at The Culinary School, he made an important phone call to the Food Bank of Delaware. Workforce Training Program Manager Ruthann Messick set up a face-to-face interview, and she guided him through the steps to officially enroll. He started in May and will graduate on Aug. 21.

The Culinary School is a 14-week program at the Food Bank of Delaware that provides valuable job training to adults. The program includes 12 weeks (daytime hours) of hands-on training in basic and high-end kitchen skills, safe food handling and life skills. This 12-week training culminates with a two-week paid internship at a food-service company, restaurant or catering company. The school is a certified trade school by the Delaware Department of Education.

The next session starts Sept. 4 in both Milford and Newark.

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Meanwhile, Kenny praises the benefits of the Culinary School as he continues to cook at night at Friday’s while attending school during the day. He admits that the program has been a challenge, and at times he’s considered dropping out.

“After I started, I got frustrated and irritated and wanted to quit, but Chef Tish (chef instructor) and Miss Ruthann built my confidence,” he said.

Kenny said one of the most difficult aspects for him was mastering the five mother sauces, and the Hollandaise was particularly frustrating. “I had to do it three times before I got it right,” he said.

The benefits, he said, have outweighed the struggles. He’s earned new respect from co-workers when he goes to work in the uniform provided by the Food Bank.

“I tell everybody about it (The Culinary School),” he said. “My girlfriend is coming here next semester.”

In addition, he gained a new perspective on dining out. “Before going to school, I just went out to eat. Now I look at restaurants completely different. That can be a good thing and a bad thing, but it’s good to know,” he said.

Culinary School students like Kenny also recognize the training and education they receive also imparts important life lessons.

“This program is not just about cooking. It might be tough, but it has taught me so much. It offers so much pertaining to life, and I have learned you have to work for it. Nothing is easy, but it pays off in the end. If I can do it, anybody can,” he said.

To learn more about The Culinary School, please contact Jessica Neal at (302) 292-1305 ext 265 (New Castle County) or contact Ruthann Messick (Kent and Sussex counties) at or (302) 424-3301 ext 107.

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