Food Bank of Delaware celebrates its 33rd graduating class

We celebrated the accomplishments of nine of our culinary students yesterday at a graduation ceremony at our Newark facility.

Under the instruction of Chef Instructor Nicole Wilson, students spent the past 14 weeks developing their passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to sautéing and food safety skills, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.

Guest speaker Tom Hannum, head chef and co-owner of Buckley’s Tavern, commended the students for their hard work and commitment to the program. He also instructed them to keep an open mind, work as hard as they can and always be willing to learn more.

“The more you learn, the more you do, the further you get,” said Hannum. “You can learn from anybody.”

He also advised the students that no job is too small. “I still wash dishes,” he said.

Graduate Maureen Brown shared words of wisdom with her classmates.  “We held on, we didn’t fail, we did prevail.” said Brown.

“I am proud of the accomplishments of all of our students,” said Wilson. “They have worked so hard to get to today’s graduation. From learning ServSafe skills to successfully completing their internship, the students have demonstrated that they have what it takes to have a career in the food industry.”

“I highly recommend this program for any person that has a passion for culinary arts,” said graduate Patrick Hulton. “It is a great start for anyone new to the food service or restaurant industry. It is also a good rebound for anybody with unstable employment.”

In addition to learning hands-on skills in the food bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students also catered meals for the Wilmington Grand Prix, Food Bank of Delaware appreciation dinner and annual meeting and numerous other catering jobs for the community. A highlight of the 14 week training program was a garde manger skills competition.

“The food competitions worked to challenge me to do the best I can do,” said graduate Audra Maguire. “I thank [the Culinary School] for giving me the opportunity to succeed in my endeavors in the future.”

Following the ceremony, guests were served a lunch prepared by the graduates. The students featured a menu of salmon filet, honey chipotle chicken tacos, lobster ravioli, funnel cake fries and more.

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.

Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other community-based organizations.

Congratulations, graduates!

Maureen Brown
Hummu Darway
Andrienne Dolley
Kevin Gunter
Terrone Hammond
Patrick Hulton
Troy Lopez
Audra Maguire
Cherise Simon

The following students received special awards:

Patrick Hulton, Perfect Attendance & Most Improved
Hummu Darway, Best Attitude
Audra Maguire, Highest G.P.A. & Most Dedicated
Troy Lopez, Leadership Award

To learn more about The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, please visit

Check out some photos from the graduation ceremony!



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