Late on a Friday night, the smell of fresh herbs, toasted garlic, and ripe plum tomatoes came from the house, filling my nose.

At the time, I was outside playing and knew my dad was making rich tomato sauce for a homemade pizza or pasta. These aromas are the one thing I can remember that triggered my passion for food and cooking. That night was the night I knew I wanted to learn to cook, and become a Chef just like my father. Growing up, I always watched him cook dinners for us, and occasionally, I helped. At first, I only wanted to eat the delicious foods, but as I got older and more independent, I started to want to learn how he created these wonderful foods. There was a time I felt like I was just in the way, but once he gave me my first job, my confidence grew.

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I would help him by cutting up garlic, and other items that we used in each dish. As time passed, my cutting skills improved, and I began exploring new challenges in the kitchen. Now, I was mixing together the garlic and adding different spices to enhance the flavors. It felt good; I was actually learning how to cook the foods I love, such as the tomato sauce. Last year, I finally felt fully confident when he hired me to work at the Duchess County fair as his line chef.

Each morning I would prep each dish and little by little learn more and more. This yearly job kept me busy and gave me great experience. I was used to cooking at my own pace, but this job was all about making things perfectly as fast as possible. I now am proud to say that I can assemble a hot roast beef sandwich in a couple of seconds. Today I am still learning, and hope to keep growing as a chef.

I plan on going to The Culinary Institute of America in order to get an associates degree in culinary and follow my inspiration’s footsteps. I want to cook because it makes me feel good. I can be creative and connect to everyone through food. It was always the way we connected as a family, sitting at dinners, planning holiday meals, and making special desserts. My Dad often told stories about his early culinary adventures.

He shared his passion with me my whole life, and someday it will be mine too.