TAFB Community Kitchen Graduate Gives Back

One Million Reasons

The reasons why people seek to be a part of the Tarrant Area Food Bank (TAFB) Community Kitchen are as different as the personalities accepted into the program. Every graduate has a unique story and carries a specific motivation that guides them through their culinary journey. Daniel Vermillion’s story is a perfect example of this.

After Daniel’s grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, he became her full-time caregiver. Once her symptoms advanced to the point that she needed specialized care, she went into assisted living. The weight of it all caused Daniel to struggle with anxiety and depression.

Unclear about his future, Daniel came across information about the free culinary job training available in TAFB’s Community Kitchen. Though he had an economics degree, cooking had always been his passion. “I thought I was amazing at it (cooking) at the time” he chuckled. With his love for cooking, Daniel reached out to learn more about the program. Unfortunately, he inquired right after the last information session ended. Community Kitchen Manager Ms. B encouraged him to reach out in time for the next class, which was taking place four months later.

Secrets to Success

And that’s just what Daniel did. He followed up with Ms. B who gave him the details about the upcoming information sessions. Soon after that he was selected to join TAFB Community Kitchen Class 26.

“I was a mess when I came here. I was not happy with myself,” said Daniel, thinking back to when he started the program. While in Community Kitchen, he sought out a second opinion for his anxiety and depression. This time he received treatment for insomnia and quickly discovered how much that affected the symptoms for anxiety and depression.

Things turned around for him after that. He learned how to swim in the “sink or swim” environment that can be the culinary world. The good foundation provided by the Community Kitchen challenged Daniel and taught him that he could succeed. While he felt overwhelmed when he was in college, he thrived in the Community Kitchen.

Paying It Forward

Oftentimes Daniel will pay it forward by returning to the Community Kitchen to talk with students about his experience and share what he has learned since then. When asked how he feels each time he walks back into the classroom Daniel responds, “I am so happy.”

Today, along with his economics degree, Daniel holds a certificate of completion from a tenured culinary training program, valuable culinary experience at the Fort Worth Club and has a position in the kitchen at The Residences on Watermere Drive in Southlake working under Chef Pedro Toledo. For the first time, Daniel is in a position where he can work to live rather that live to work. He no longer has to work two jobs to make ends meet.

Daniel’s goals for the future include learning as much as possible in the culinary world and eventually competing in chef competitions. One day Daniel hopes to take over an established kitchen and use what he has learned from his culinary training in the Community Kitchen and beyond.

To learn more about joining Community Kitchen, fill out our interest form. You’ll be the first to know about upcoming information sessions on the program.

Read other TAFB Community Kitchen graduate stories on our blog

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