Career Panel at Lower East Side Prep

By April 16, 2024April 18th, 2024Blog, The Power of Cooking

Left to right: Ben Otto, Christina Tobia, Raquel Pelzel, and Arlene Spiegel

Last month, TSC held our first career panel for our Work-Based Learning (WBL) students at Lower East Side Preparatory High School. Four culinary experts shared their inspiring journeys with thirty WBL apprentices, encouraging them to chase their culinary dreams. The program, launched last fall, focuses on skill development and work-based learning in food and health-related fields for 16–24 year olds ready to enter the workplace. 

We had an inspiring discussion with restaurant veteran Ben Otto, and three of our Culinary Council members, award-winning food writer and editor Raquel Pelzel, foodservice consultant Arlene Spiegel, and hospitality brand expert Christina Tobia who introduced the multitudes of opportunities in the food industry and the potential career opportunities that lie ahead. These panelists were invited to introduce the students to more non-traditional avenues of the food industry and to show the wide-range of food-related job opportunities that exist. From kitchens to consulting to operations, our students had the opportunity to delve into every corner of the food world.

Panelists emphasized the importance of leading with curiosity and valuing the different types of people they’ll encounter in the workspace. They also highlighted the importance of finding that “thing” that makes you excited, and preserving self-respect and well-being.

When asked what advice would you give a young person looking to get into the hospitality  industry, Raquel Pelzel said “Follow your curiosity and always be open to opportunities and don’t turn things down just because on the surface it doesn’t seem like a right fit. No matter what you do, try to be the best at it and try to do your best.”

Our guest speakers emphasized finding joy and supportive workspaces to advance in their respective industries. “Look at what the values of the company are…Do they show an interest in helping you develop within the industry and does the company provide opportunity? You’re gonna grow if you work at a company that values you and gives you opportunity. That’s where I would start,” said Arlene Spiegel.

Huge thanks to Shamell Santana, Grand St. Settlement’s Outreach Coordinator, for ensuring our Spanish-speaking students felt included, and to Cara Conaboy, TSC Chef Educator, for moderating a dynamic discussion. We can’t wait to host other career opportunities for our students!