Leaders of Tomorrow

By June 19, 2020May 3rd, 2024Archive

This spring, as a part of our Teen Culinary Apprenticeship (TCA), local high school students joined our 60-hour credit-bearing program to grow their understanding of the connection between food and health, and how they can shape the future health of their communities. This year, our TCA students came from The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and LES schools and community centers.

While we were able to start off the season with six weeks of in-person, hands-on learning, as schools went virtual, The Sylvia Center quickly adapted to our new distance learning model for the remaining 11 weeks of our TCA program. Since our Spring 2020 program started, our TCA students have learned fundamental culinary skills, how to reduce food waste, hygiene and sanitation in the kitchen, how our food systems work, and, most importantly, how to create more equitable food access in their local communities.

In addition to work done in our virtual classroom, our teens had the opportunity to go on four virtual field trips to meet leaders from across the food industry and learn how they can play a role in shaping the future of food. A tremendous thank you to Keith Carr of City Harvest, panelists from Bon Appétit, former Sylvia Center Community Chef Sam Moll, and Charita Johnson James of CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute for sharing your advice and experiences with our teens!

Now more than ever, we celebrate our incredible Teen Culinary Apprenticeship graduates as they become food justice leaders in their own communities. 

Here are a few fun facts about some of our graduates:

  • Tyler, 8th grader, is our youngest teen with lots of potential. Tyler is a recruit from Henry Street Settlement, and he makes a great banana bread. Tyler shared that he stopped cooking for a while, but found his love for it again with The Sylvia Center!
  • Badaria is on the road to becoming a doctor. She is currently studying for the New York City Department Of Health and Mental Hygiene Food Handlers and ServSafe Food handlers examination. She also has a food-forward instagram where she posts her delicious food @togolesebabycooking
  • Samuela loves to cook, and she is on her way to becoming a master chef with her crepes and pineapple cakes! Her passion is educating people on nutrition and how to heal with proper nutrition. She hopes to pursue biomedical engineering and nutrition science in college.
  • Aayden loves to cook and loves fitness. Aayden is very caring and is big on friendship.
  • Melissa cooks lots of traditional foods using the freshest ingredients, and makes a great poblano soup with pepitas.  She is interested in being an electrician.
  • Nicole feels cooking is a great way to relieve stress. She loves strawberries, milk, bread, and cheese. Her signature dish is pasta alfredo and she is interested in careers involved with criminology, particularly forensic science.
  • Rongling is attending Brooklyn College where she became interested in nutrition.  She also dreams of being a food photographer one day.

Reflecting on these last few months, Chef Doreece Dyer shares “It is amazing to see how resilient our teens are. They have faced so many obstacles this year and have been able to remain focused on their goals. It is important to learn valuable lessons, but, more importantly, to learn them from those we teach. If only we as adults could display such care and fearlessness as our teens, the world would be a better place.”

As we head into summer, we are excited to see 18 of our teen apprentices move into summer internships on July 6, 2020. This year’s summer internship will focus on three areas: teaching healthy cooking, food media and marketing, and entrepreneurship (including the production of pickled products!). Be sure to check out our InstagramFacebook, and Twitter for updates from the field!

Congratulations to our Teen Culinary Apprenticeship Class of 2020!

This program is funded, in part, by ExpandED Schools through funds administered by the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development in Partnership with the City Council. This program is also funded in part through Henry Street Settlement through the New York County District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (CJII). For more information on CJII please visit: www.cjii.org


We are committed to helping our teens empower their communities. 

This summer, through New York City’s Summer Youth Employment Program, our teen apprentices will teach weekly virtual healthy cooking classes to community youth to help kids learn how nourishing foods keep our bodies healthy and strong.

Your donation today helps us sustain our Teen Culinary Apprenticeship for an even stronger program in 2021!

Make a Donation Today!