Community Kitchen Helps Grad Pursue His Passion

Growing up, Scott Hulsey always had a passion for food, but he never pursued it professionally. When economic conditions caused him to lose his job in 2011, Scott chose to look at the bright side. That evening, he brought a cake home to share with his wife and three daughters to celebrate new opportunities to come.

“Something’s going to happen—something big,” said Scott to his wife, Stephanie. A couple weeks later, Scott was enrolled in Class 14 of Tarrant Area Food Bank’s Community Kitchen, a free 16-week culinary job training program he credits with helping him get where he is today.

“For the cooking world, it’s prepared me immensely,” said Scott. “It’s given me ideas and a release to be able to do what I feel like I was called to do.”

Before Community Kitchen, Scott had been working as an educational program manager at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. He is now back at the museum where he works as the manager of the Stars Café—keeping the menu fresh with new recipes and local products.

Changing Course

After losing his job in 2011, Scott was faced with the choice of what to do next to support his family. Having heard about TAFB’s Community Kitchen program at a conference the previous year, Scott reached out to the staff to find out about upcoming opportunities for culinary job training. He was able to get into the new class, which was starting the following week.

With encouragement from his wife and the support of his church family, Scott pressed forward. But the road to success wasn’t easy.

“For me, giving up employment for 16 weeks—especially with a family of four—was hard, really hard. We struggled there for a bit, but I think it grew us stronger,” said Scott. “I believe that it was meant to be.”

Scott’s only culinary experience prior to Community Kitchen was the experience he gained from being in the kitchen with his mom and trying new recipes with his family. While he enjoyed working in the kitchen, the idea of culinary school never entered his mind because he believed he needed to go “the traditional way” through school. After receiving a degree in psychology from Oklahoma State University, he pursued a career working with at-risk youth.

“I always thought, ‘This is the way I’m going to go,’” said Scott. Community Kitchen, he said, helped him understand more about himself, feel more comfortable sharing his story and realize that there is no need for stress in life. “You have to celebrate the good and the bad in life because it’s all part of your story and you can learn from it.”

Building Skills

Scott’s wife, Stephanie, said she saw Scott come into his gifting and his passion while he went through training at TAFB’s Community Kitchen.

“You just knew he was doing what he was meant to be doing,” said Stephanie. “To see someone to grow in their passion and find it—I’m almost speechless for it. Under really bad circumstances, his dreams came true.”

TAFB Community Kitchen Manager Ms. B said that Scott excelled while he was in the program. “I saw him grow in confidence as his culinary skills were honed. I could see that he had success written all over him.”

After graduating from Community Kitchen, Scott worked as a career navigator for The Women’s Center of Tarrant County, where he helped clients find jobs and connect with educational opportunities in the community. While he enjoyed the work at the center, he missed working in the food world.

“I started realizing that food is really where my heart is,” said Scott.

He moved on to a full-time job with Trader Joes and then to a position as kitchen manager for the East Fort Worth Montessori Academy. Following his time at the academy, Scott accepted a position at Pizza Snob in Fort Worth, where he eventually moved up to assistant manager. It was while working at Pizza Snob that he found out about the opportunity to run the Stars Café at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.

“Community Kitchen allowed me to enjoy the museum more because now I’m doing what I want in the context that I want.”

Giving Back

Scott continues to stay connected with TAFB’s Community Kitchen program by referring new students to the program and attending student graduations. Two students in the current class of Community Kitchen, Class 31, are working part-time at the Stars Café with Scott while they are going through the program.

“Scott has been an ambassador for the Community Kitchen and Tarrant Area Food Bank,” said Ms. B. “He’s always trying to encourage people to get the culinary education we offer for free.”

Scott said that he enjoyed the practical knowledge and one-on-one training he received through Community Kitchen. “It’s amazing what it will do—not just the culinary side, but the life skills side,” he said.

Community Kitchen is open to students from all backgrounds. Ms. B said that many Community Kitchen students have come to the program from completely different career paths. For those considering a career change, Scott said Community Kitchen is well worth the time.

“Go for it,” said Scott. “It’s life-changing—especially if you have a passion for it.”

The next information sessions on the program take place on Nov. 21 and 22. To learn more, visit our Community Kitchen page.