Getting Closer to her Culinary Dream

While our Food Service Training Academy students learn to work in a busy commercial kitchen, they also learn a lot about themselves and their goals.

Saleemah told us the FSTA is bringing her closer to her dream job, which is one that incorporates all the things she loves – cooking, styling hair and working with children.

After teaching preschool for 15 years, she was laid off. One day at our thrift store, Kathleen’s Closet, she picked up an FSTA brochure. That’s when she researched the program, applied and enrolled.

Since joining the Academy, “things have been quite amazing,” Saleemah said.

“The amount of information I’m able to retain, the hours, the hands-on tasks, the tests, baking, cooking, knife skills. Everything’s been a brand new experience for me.”

A part-time Youth Development Specialist at a Boys & Girls Club, Saleemah sees the children enjoy the Kids Cafe meals she helps make every week in our Community Kitchen.

“I’m able to prepare all of the meals and I’m able to see the children benefit from the meals,” she said.

Throughout the program, Saleemah has gained the confidence to try new recipes and work with unfamiliar ingredients. When she and a partner received a mystery basket of ingredients, they decided to cook a dish they’ve never attempted – beef Wellington – and it was a hit in the kitchen.

She’s excited for the weeks to come, especially for the cooking competition. Looking even further into the future, Saleemah knows she wants to open a business and name it “Curls, Coils and Cupcakes,” which she envisions as a hair salon for children with a cupcake shop next door.

“I’m bringing together all the things that I love,” Saleemah explained.

The 16-week culinary program can be tough, but that’s her favorite part. She’s improved on her teamwork skills, gained discipline and learned to take chances.

Eagerness for what her future holds is “what’s keeping me here,” Saleemah told us.

“And that’s what I need for when I move forward.”

For more stories about our students, click here.