With many of our clients interested in vocational training, Lantern’s Employment & Education team has begun partnering with the New York State ACCES-VR program, which provides vocational training opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Three clients recently graduated from their programs, including Daryl Williams, who completed the Culinary Arts program at Fedcap.
Daryl has had a lifelong love of cooking, inspired by watching his mother and aunt, the “unofficial chefs” in the kitchen. Among his friends and family, he is famous for his annual summer cook-outs and Christmas lasagnas. Daryl had never seriously considered cooking as a career, but when disability made the physical work he’d done all his life impossible, he decided to take a chance on his dream.
In the 12-week Fedcap program, Daryl learnt a whole of new set of skills, including how to prepare and cook different meats and how to cook many different sauces. When he wasn’t at school, he was watching cooking shows and practicing his knife technique. After excelling in the early stages of the course, Daryl was referred into a Black Culinary Alliance program link food service professionals with students of color, to support their education. He completed an internship at Pig & Khao restaurant in the Lower East Side, and the program finished with an intense MasterChef-style round of practical cooking tests, in front of a panel of judges.
Now, Daryl is working on obtaining his food handler’s license, and is hoping to open his own catering service, specializing in soul food. He says that all his life friends have told him he should open his own food business, but he was focused on just making a living. Now at 57, he wishes he’d started his culinary education earlier. He says:
“Now, my passion keeps me going. I love seeing that joy that other people get from eating the food that I cooked.”