Updated: Dec 9, 2021
If you've ever attended one of our graduation events, and we certainly hope you have, you'll probably hear something like this: "We're all family here. Your Providence instructors and the entire Second Harvest team will always be rooting for you. Stay in touch! We want to celebrate with you through your culinary career successes!"
Spicing up the local culinary scene
Rosemary Scott can look at a plate of food and immediately tell whether it was the work of love or duty. It’s always been the former for her – rooted in childhood cooking sessions with her grandmother.
“We grew up poor so we learned to use what we had,” she says. “One of my favorites was hamburger chop suey made with hamburger meat, tomato sauce, salt and pepper, peas and garlic on top of white rice and with a drizzle of soy sauce.
“I’ve added mushrooms and cabbage to it but you can add anything. It’s delicious.”
Another of her grandmother’s recipes once wowed guests at a wedding she cooked for while working for a Hilton hotel in South Carolina. “I called her and said, ‘Just so you know, everyone loved your mac and cheese last night!’ ”
A 2007 graduate of Parkland High School and veteran in the kitchen of several local restaurants, Scott says Providence’s culinary training and support helped her finally leave drugs and prison behind.
“I think I’m the only one who went through the program three times before I completed it but they never gave up on me and never judged me,” she says. “I’m a completely different person today from the person I was before Providence.”
After working at Old Town Country Club for three years, Scott accepted a position with Providence Catering in September.
“We’re family and we get the privilege of creating and serving this beautiful food,” she says of Providence Catering venues. “It’s a big deal to see our work out there and people enjoying it.
“Providence is not just a program for cooking but about life and learning to be a family and how to really adjust, live, and grow,” Scott says. “How many programs do you know where your teacher texts you every morning to make sure you’re up for school?
“Now it’s my time to give back.”
Daryl Myers admitted his hands were shaking when he penned the letter to Goodwill Industries in July 2016 seeking a scholarship for Providence’s Culinary Training Program.
It was the opportunity to put the life choices behind him that limited job options. Myers considered opening a food truck. Then one day he made cheesecake in class and a business was born.
Since graduating from Providence in 2016, Myers and his wife and business partner, Jennifer, have steadily built the DJ’s cheesecakes brand. At one time or another, the business has supplied more than 20 restaurants, convenience stores and other wholesale customers in addition to individual customers who order online.
A father of three, Myers jokes that it’s his children who most encouraged him to push the cheesecake envelope beyond the traditional cream cheese and graham cracker crust dessert. The company’s biggest seller? A banana pudding cheesecake that uses the banana pudding recipe of Jennifer’s grandmother.
“Providence will always be family and my second home,” he says of the program that launched his business and recently invited him to teach a class on making, well, cheesecake, of course! “The relationships built and the things they taught you in class carry on,” Myers says. “I know I can call any of the chefs who taught me and talk to them at any time. And they know they can do the same with me. We help each other and there’s always an open door. Providence is a very good and inspiring place.”
Vu Le had been working as a butcher for Lowes Foods for four years when a meal became a milestone.
Realizing he’d put too much time and energy into video games growing up, Le dived into food headlong — watching how-to videos on YouTube and learning everything he could about cooking.
When the experts recommended Shepherd’s Pie as the perfect beginner meal, he decided to serve it up to his then-girlfriend and her parents.
The meal at their Tobaccoville home in 2014 proved memorable in more ways than one.
“I had never cooked growing up and was trying to better myself as a person and expand my skillset,” Le recalls. “That night at dinner, my girlfriend’s mom asked if I’d ever considered cooking professionally.
“I remember how much they enjoyed my food and the smiles on their faces so, when I got home, I Googled culinary programs and up came Triad Community Kitchen (today’s Providence).”
A 2015 graduate, Le parlayed two years of Providence Catering and two years of Providence restaurant experience into a job at Quanto Basta Italian Eatery & Wine Bar in Winston-Salem.
Girlfriend Kelsey became wife and her parents the in-laws with a family cook for life.
As a sous chef, Le serves under Quanto Basta’s chef as second in command in the kitchen’s pecking order.
“My main responsibility is bringing the chef’s vision to reality,” Le explains. “He will tell us ‘here is our menu and what we’re going to be having’ and my job is to find the best way to get the result that he wants.
“My co-workers are awesome, and it’s such a stress-free environment. The flow is fantastic, the food is great, and the people are nice. I really like where I am and the path I’m on, and it all goes back to Providence.”
And Shepherd’s Pie.
As the chef de cuisine, Manny Martinez is the food version of a star quarterback at Spring House Restaurant, Kitchen & Bar — the head chef trusted to run the kitchen of one of Winston-Salem’s prime eateries.
Owner and Chef Timothy Grandinetti knows the business and the kitchen’s six-person staff are in good hands.
“I met Manny when he was working for Providence and looking for an opportunity to expand his repertoire,” Grandinetti says. “I needed a sous chef at Spring House so it was perfect timing and he’s been a great fit.”
“Manny is definitely one of the rock stars to have come out of the Providence program, and is so hungry to learn.” Things weren’t always so promising for Martinez. Earlier in life, he bounced between construction and jobs in Mexican restaurants before meeting Providence Executive Director and Chef Jeff Bacon one day at Hope Community Church.
That led to culinary training and the life changes Martinez credits for allowing he and his wife to build roots in the community and provide a stable home for their family. Their three children range in ages from 6 to 14 years old.
“I started learning how to cook with my mom by helping her out in the kitchen,” he says of his craft. “I always loved it but never got the opportunity to go to school for it.
“Providence gave me that chance—and the hope and support that have changed my life.”
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