ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Foodlink's New York State Registered Apprenticeship Training program is opening doors for individuals from diverse backgrounds, offering them the chance to build a brighter future and a fulfilling career in the culinary world.
Meet Khadijah Jones, a culinary enthusiast whose love for cooking has been a lifelong passion. Today, she's not just cooking; she's crafting a future through Foodlink's transformative program.
"Cooking has been part of my life since I was a little girl. Just being complimented by my kids encouraged me to improve my skills. I found out about Foodlink and it has taken off ever since," shares Khadijah Jones, a Foodlink fellow.
The Foodlink Career Fellowship is a comprehensive, year-long, three-part program designed to equip individuals like Khadijah with the skills and knowledge needed for a successful culinary career.
The first three months focus on the pre-apprenticeship phase, during which fellows delve into kitchen workflows and master culinary fundamentals. Following this foundational period, the apprenticeship phase provides hands-on, real-life experiences, combining in-kitchen training, classroom education, advanced recipes and externship opportunities with employer partners.
"What qualifies you is having an interest in culinary arts and facing barriers to sustainable employment," explains Pleasant Foy, a workforce development specialist at Foodlink.
Jones is gaining valuable customer service experience at Foodlink's Community Cafe, where the food is prepared by former and current fellows.
"Foodlink is like a community within a community. I've been supported since day one, not only with my culinary journey but also with life outside of it," expresses Jones.
The collaborative and supportive environment at Foodlink fosters a sense of camaraderie among fellows.
"Everybody's complimenting each other, helping each other, and it makes you want to go to work every day," says Jones.
Looking toward the future, Jones envisions becoming a traveling chef.
"I'm thrilled to have connected with so many inspiring people, and it's only been the first three months with nine more to go," she shares.
Upon completion of the program, graduates emerge fully certified and prepared to continue their culinary journey.