The kitchen at Abbott’s Grill is bustling during lunch time. No surprises here because the dining room at the Milford restaurant looks nearly full.
Back in the kitchen, Eugene Pennewell and Erick Smith, students with the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford, are learning the tricks of the trade, so to speak.
Eugene and Erick, along with nine other classmates, have completed 12 weeks in the classroom and the kitchen learning kitchen skills. The course also includes life skills, such as resume writing, interviewing, and financial literacy.
The students have the opportunity to become ServSafe certified, and now they are completing a two-week paid internship before Friday’s graduation ceremonies.
Both of these students are enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with Kevin Reading, Abbott’s owner and chef, and with Chef Paul Gallo.
“They will learn a lot on their internship. Paul and Kevin will take their skills to the next level as they experience how a restaurant kitchen functions,” said the Food Bank’s Chef Instructor Tim Hunter.
Internships in a kitchen are hands-on and practical experience. Eugene is chopping celery for a fish stock made from fresh rockfish, while Erick is mixing up hummus.
Eugene pulls out a notebook and pen to take notes, and Kevin steps over to give Erick some instructions on when to add the lemon and salt to flavor the hummus.
“These guys are awesome,” said Kevin. “They even took it upon themselves to come in early. They are learning the foundations.”
Both students expressed pride in working at Abbott’s and the learning opportunities they have encountered, including tasting new and unusual foods.
“This is a life-changing experience. It’s inspiring. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, but nothing as exquisite as this,” said Erick.
“This is real life, but it doesn’t feel like working. It’s fun,” said Eugene.
The internship appears to be a winning combination for everyone.
“These guys are pretty good, and they are really eager to learn,” said Kevin, who said he will attend the May 8 graduation.
“With the Food Bank, I am really the one who gets the rewards. I watch the light bulb on,” he added.
The next Culinary School class in Milford begins May 26, and a few spots remain for prospective students!
For more information on how to enroll, visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.