There was electricity in the air when renowned chef Aaron Sanchez visited Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. On a brief detour from his book tour schedule, Sanchez spoke candidly with culinary training program students who are pursuing careers in the food industry.
“There are three essential tools to succeed in this industry,” explained Sanchez. “You need a mentor, structure and accountability – both for your actions and for being part of a team.”
Over the course of five minutes, Sanchez shared a bit about his humble upbringing in El Paso, Texas, his mother’s journey to open a restaurant in New York City and how legendary Chef Paul Prudhomme of New Orleans mentored him early in his career.
“What you need to do to excel in this industry is to have an open attitude,” said Sanchez. “A good chef can teach you everything you need to know, but you have to be willing to learn.”
That advice was not lost on the audience. Most of the students in attendance were in their fourth day of class. Most of the first week was spent in a classroom learning about kitchen procedures, terminology and safe food handling skills. This special guest appearance motivated students and reminded them of their goals.
“You want to know how to move up the ladder?” asked Sanchez. “You should focus on coming in early, staying late. Identify people in the industry that you admire. Write to them. Ask for mentors.”
Sanchez shared a little about his foundation to … and how much like Second Harvest’s 16- week Culinary Training Program, he feels education should not be a crutch or disadvantage to those who want to climb the ladder to a better job and stronger financial future. The Program is offered to economically disadvantaged adults free of charge thanks to the support of generous community partners and donors.
As with many who volunteer and serve in their communities, Sanchez said he left Second Harvest feeling inspired.
“To see all these young people taking the food industry as something that they want to pursue makes me great, it makes me feel like the future is bright, and like their hearts and motivations are in the right place.”
Special thanks to George, Chefs Against Hunger, and David from Culinary Classics, Inc. for creating a special opportunity to inspire our students on their journey to new careers in the food industry.