Culinary Student Spotlight: Lavenia Johnson

IMG_9326Lavenia Johnson took a risk to follow her dreams when she quit her job at a local financial institution to begin classes at The Culinary School at our Newark facility.

Lavenia found out about the training program through a Google search. “I was sitting at my desk at work on a Tuesday; it was boring and slow,” she recalls. “I was Googling on my phone and found The Culinary School. I filled out the application on my phone from my desk at work,” she recalls.

“I really love cooking, so I took the chance and left my job to come here, and it’s been awesome” she says.

Lavenia enjoys learning new skills from Chef Instructor Sean McNeice, “I am learning to do things the proper way. I love the hands-on labs. The chef is great.”

She recently had the opportunity to do a one-day internship at the new Westin Hotel on the Wilmington Riverfront. Lavenia was able to apply newly-learned skills in a real working kitchen. “I have to learn to be quicker,” she says. “It’s challenging; it’s a lot harder than what you see on TV.”

So far, Lavenia’s favorite new skill is de-boning meats, “I never knew how to do it before, and I actually applied it at my internship.”

Guest chef presentations have also enriched her experience at The Culinary School. She was surprised by how easy it is to make homemade pasta when Chef Jim Berman, Executive Chef at Firestone, came to class for a pasta demonstration.

The life skill lessons have been as equally important as the kitchen skills, she says. “The $tand By Me people have been great for your personal finances.”

Upon graduation, she hopes to land a fast-paced job. “I like the hustle and bustle of it all, and I like to stay busy.”

Ideally, Lavenia would like to work in the hotel business, and in five years she hopes to be building her own menus.

For adults considering The Culinary School, she advises, “Just do it. Don’t second guess it. It’s worth it. If I quit my real job to do it, you know you can do it!”

To learn more about The Culinary School’s 14-week training program, please visit


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