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Empty Plates, Full Heart: TAFB Chef Dedrich Flint Mixes Passion with Purpose

He knew from the time he was a little boy that becoming a chef was his passion – but life took some twists and turns before the dream became a reality. Chef Dedrich Flint, better known at Tarrant Area Food Bank as “Chef D,” was the little boy that held on to his mother’s apron strings, literally. While other kids watched endless hours of cartoons, he was mesmerized by cooking shows, Easy-Bake ovens and recipe books.

“I always loved cooking with my mom,” said Chef D. “She was a great cook and so were all the men in my family.” They were stunned when he went away to college to pursue anything but cooking.

“I studied music and education,” said Chef D. “When I got out of school, I tried my hand at the music business, but it was tough to make ends meet so I had to get creative in order to get noticed.”

Cue cooking skills

Chef D whipped up cheesecakes and delivered them via singing telegrams. He also sold his pies and pastries to the highest bidder and catered any job he could find.

“After years of struggling, I hit a place in life where I needed to make a change. That’s when a friend told me about the free culinary training at Tarrant Area Food Bank.”

Six years ago, Chef D found himself at the food bank listening to an orientation about the program. He was immediately accepted as a chef in training and the rest, as they say, is history.

“I loved the whole experience because it wasn’t just about your skills. It was also about learning to work well with others,” reflected Chef D. He shared that the 16-week training at Tarrant Area Food Bank helped him refine his skills and taught him industry terminology. Most importantly, it helped him define his life’s passion.

Before the program, Chef D knew he could cook, but wasn’t sure if being a chef was his calling. After completing the program, doubt was removed.

“For the first time, I figured out who I am. I am a chef.”

After graduating, he worked at a catering company and helped Tarrant Area Food Bank on temporary assignments until a full-time position became available. Chef D was thrilled to get the job as the organization’s production chef. Every week, he develops recipes, sources ingredients and teaches aspiring chefs how to make around 6,000 one-pound meals that get distributed to hungry people across the organization’s 13-county area.

“Some of the students recognize the meals because they’ve received them at a shelter or from a food pantry in their past,” said Chef D. “They just didn’t know the food came from us. Now, I get to teach them how to prepare these meals to feed others. It’s a great job and I love it.”

On top of continuing his career at Tarrant Area Food Bank, Chef D has a new dream. “I really want to start my own food truck named “Glass Buffet” and take it out to small towns where there aren’t many restaurants or entertainment venues. I want to bring a band and a dance floor and sing while we’re serving up 4-course dinners. I want to cook, connect and entertain. I want to see the plates we prepare come back empty because everyone enjoyed their meal. Simply put, an empty plate makes my heart full.”

Our Community Kitchen program is open to people of all backgrounds. If you would like to be a part of the next class, join us for an upcoming information session. Visit our Community Kitchen page to learn more. The next information sessions take place July 31 and Aug. 1.