Many of us would not be where we are today if it weren’t for a teacher, a mentor, a supervisor, a friend, someone who took a personal interest in our success. For many graduates of Second Harvest’s Culinary Training Program, that person is Chef Bogdan Sonta. As the Executive Sous Chef at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort, he oversees several of the resort’s dining venues, but his real passion is teaching.
“If I can change someone’s life for the better, that to me, is priceless,” says Chef Bogdan.
As the students progress through the 16-week Culinary Training Program they learn knife skills, how to follow a recipe, make basic sauces and other foundational skills. They also learn financial literacy, develop goals, write resumes and practice interviewing. It is during mock interviews that Chef Bogdan meets potential candidates to join his kitchen.
“The interviews are important. As an employer, I’m looking for individuals who have a passion for culinary arts, but also who want to learn and dedicate the time to improve,” he explains.
Graduates who accept Chef Bogdan’s challenge enter a 90-day internship to build on their experiences in the program. They work on increasing their speed and accuracy with knife cuts and prep before moving on to other skills. Over the last three years, 20 Second Harvest graduates have launched their culinary careers at the Swan and Dolphin. Today, eight graduates are working full-time at the resort in a variety of positions, including commissary prep, breakfast cook and baker.
“It is inspiring to know the hardships these students overcome to be successful. After working with them, my bad day doesn’t matter anymore,” says Chef Bogdan.
Second Harvest is thankful for the ongoing partnership and support of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort. In addition to hiring graduates, their team members have hosted students for field trip opportunities, provided knife skills training and guest lectured for the students.
To learn more about Second Harvest’s culinary training program visit www.feedhopenow.org/culinarytraining.