Felipe standing in the Kitchen CroppedIf you take a look behind the scenes of The Viscardi Center’s cafeteria, you will find a young man wearing a beanie and an apron, working tirelessly to provide the students of Henry Viscardi School with their appetizing meals every day. This young man is Felipe. A native of Elmont, Long Island, Felipe graduated from The Viscardi Center’s Culinary Skills training program in 2022 and has been working at the Center ever since.

Felipe took culinary classes while attending Sewanhaka High School, which ignited his interest in the food service industry. His teacher, who recognized his talent, referred him to Viscardi’s Culinary Skills training-program. She saw it as the start of a career path for Felipe following his graduation and a place where he would learn an array of new skills that would set him up for employment in the field that he liked.

Before joining the program, Felipe cooked as a hobby, mostly just to have fun. During the training, Felipe learned how to safely and properly store, handle, and prepare a variety of ingredients, which he found ideal because he “likes the hands-on portion.” Along with his classmates, he learned about the pace in a kitchen, which at times, he admitted can be quite chaotic. This never broke Felipe’s spirit and he completed the program. When asked to reflect upon his learning experience, Felipe said, “My favorite part was just cooking. It’s a really fun and entertaining thing to do.” He was able to relate to his instructor’s experience which he said inspired him to try even harder. He also liked meeting new people and interacting with his fellow cohort members while getting more experience in the field he loves.

Through the program, Felipe received assistance with developing his own resume and preparing for interviews, which helped him develop his conversation and social skills. The shyness he felt at the beginning of the program quickly faded away and Felipe started interacting more with his peers. With his newfound confidence and newly acquired skills, along with the mentorship and guidance he received during the program, Felipe was ready for the job market and got an employment offer shortly after completing it.

In his role as a cooking assistant at Viscardi’s cafeteria, his daily duties consist of making breakfast, lunch and snack items that the students and Center staff alike get to enjoy throughout the day.

Watch Felipe talk about his personal experience with the Culinary Skills training program in this video that led to his recipe for success.