It wasn’t that long ago that we saw Terrell Anistead receive his diploma and knives, the customary gift to students who are graduating from Second Harvest’s Triad Community Kitchen program.
Now, nine months later, he is back in the TCK kitchen classroom standing in front of a twelve burner stove, with vegetables and steaks sizzling behind him. “You get used to being burned,” he says with a smile, pointing to a few scars on his forearms as he rolls up his sleeves.
Terrell is leading a lesson today on preparing Tomahawk Steaks. A new crop of students are here, undergoing the rigorous 13-week training program that makes TCK students sought-after by local restaurants.
Before graduating from TCK, Terrell’s internship placed him at Willow’s Bistro in Winston-Salem. He readily proved himself, and has since joined the Willow’s staff as a line cook. “I am mainly on the sauté station. It’s the glue of the kitchen. Without it, you wouldn’t have your sides; you wouldn’t have your sauces. It shows your worth to the kitchen.”
He tells the students gathered around him that the TCK program was instrumental in getting his career on track, moving him into better paid positions in the culinary field. After having children, Terrell says “I wanted something more for my life than working dead end jobs and struggling to pay bills. I knew there had to be more out there than what I was doing…TCK showed me that I had leadership skills that I didn’t even know was there. It’s not just me having a better job, it’s me crediting TCK for the person I am now.”
Kitchen life is intense, hard and rewarding work. With some more experience under his belt, Terrell is eager to share what he has learned. The students gather around him as he marinates the steaks. “’Yes, Chef’ are my two biggest words,” he tells them. “But the number one rule is you have to be early. If you are early, you are on time. If you are on time, you are late…”
His voice trails off as he heaves open the heavy oven door and pushed the steaks and vegetables towards the back. He moves back to the stove, turning his head a little away from the heat. We ask him what, looking back, TCK means to him.
“It means a way out.”
Everything smelled delicious.