Nelson Velazquez has always had a passion for food and knew eventually he would end up back in the kitchen. After spending time working for Comcast as a cable installer, he felt inspired to get back into the kitchen. “I looked [The Culinary School] up online. I called them and Sonia Murrey (Culinary Program Training Manager in Newark) helped me out,” he recalls.
Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico, but has been living in Delaware for the past ten years. He remembers growing up cooking some of his favorite dishes that showcase his Hispanic heritage. “I love to prepare Spanish food. Rice and beans, paella, empanadas, tacos, you know all that stuff,” he explains.
While enrolled as a student here at The Culinary School, Velazquez has had the opportunity to work in a large commercial kitchen, something he has always wanted and needed experience in. “I’ve been cooking since I was a young boy and what I really needed was to cook in a big kitchen and get going in a big commercial kitchen,” he says. “This program has taught me everything about what goes on in the big kitchen.”
Besides learning to adjust his cooking style to fit the facilities of a larger, more professional kitchen, Velazquez has also learned about proper cooking techniques. “I learned how to poach an egg, how to carnage fruit and gained knowledge about temperatures. I have also learned proper knife skills. It’s like a little rocking motion instead of just slamming the knife down,” he says. “I have learned how to keep my fingers safe while I’m cutting.”
Velazquez mentions that proper use of time is a skill he as picked up in the kitchen as well. “We have a time limit so we have to work faster and just develop good time management as far as getting the food done on time.”
The Food Bank of Delaware is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on the work of volunteers to help with their programs. This point has not been lost on Velazquez. “Being a student at The Culinary School, it’s taught me to give back. You know the Food Bank gave me an opportunity, so now I’m giving back – helping with anything and everything” he states. “Coaching some kids’ basketball, I never did that. This experience has taught me pretty much to give back and be grateful for what you have.”
To learn more about The Culinary School, please visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.