After twenty years of teaching elementary school in Providence, Nick, now forty-eight, knew it was time for a change. He was burnt out, depressed and had to do something else. But he didn’t know what.
When he left teaching, he was able to collect a portion of his retirement, but it wasn’t enough to support his family, which includes his wife, a social worker, and four children. For assistance, they relied on the Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale, and that’s where he first saw a flyer for the Community Kitchen culinary job training program at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.
Chef Nick recently received the Henry A. Johnson Sr. Alumni Award and spoke about his experience in the program with Community Kitchen Class 62 at their graduation. Watch his speech here.
Nick applied to the free fourteen-week program and was accepted. He absorbed Chef Heather’s lessons like a sponge, reading and watching videos so he could practice at home. He aced the program with flying colors.
When it came time to graduate, however, he still wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next.
Then Chef Heather came across a job posting for Cookie Place, a non-profit organization providing job training and employment opportunities for those with disabilities. They needed someone who could teach their students how to cook.
“I jumped at the opportunity, using all of the skills I had learned in Community Kitchen during the interview process. I was prepared and they hired me.”
The job would bring together the wide range of skills Nick had learned over his lifetime: decades of teaching experience, his passion for cooking and his desire for helping others.
“If I had to write the perfect job for my- self, it would be this one.”
Nick graduated from the Community Kitchen in December and started his job at Cookie Place in January, taking on his first ten students in the program.
He loves his work now, especially since he continues to build his cooking and teaching skills.
“I learn so much every day. Each student has something valuable to share. The teaching works both ways.”
Learn more about the Food Bank’s Community Kitchen program.