Many of Tidewater Community College’s certificate programs and associate degrees lead to immediate employment or, in some cases, employment while you’re still in college. We feature these on an occasional basis in our series “From here, go to work.” Here’s a look at one option.
TCC alum now a kitchen problem-solver
Brett Wellington dreamed of a career in zoology. But instead, he is taming a commercial kitchen with the skills he gained with his culinary degree.
“I was in college studying zoology and environmental engineering when my mom was diagnosed with cancer. I left school to take care of her and spent a lot of my time preparing meals. I found out quickly that I was pretty good at it, and I really enjoyed it,” Wellington said.
After the passing of his mother, Darlene, Wellington, 26, returned to school with a new goal. He chose TCC’s Culinary Arts program because it was affordable and close to home.
Hands-on learning in a real kitchen
Right from the start, Wellington enjoyed working in the TCC kitchens alongside his classmates and with culinary instructors who have real-world experience.
One of them is Chef Deanna Freridge.
“Chef Dee is my idol,” Wellington said with a laugh. “But seriously, the chef instructors at TCC are all personable, and they will work with you on a real level. They don’t just teach you to cook; they go well beyond the textbook and prepare you for work in the fast-paced, high-pressure environment that is a commercial kitchen.”
Students learn knife skills, sauces and how to prepare different cuisines and how to bake. They also learn important kitchen management skills, including sanitation and safety, food purchasing, nutrition, food and beverage cost control, and recipe and menu management.
Wellington landed his job at The Butcher’s Son while in culinary school and worked his way through every station in the kitchen.
“It was helpful getting on-the-job training while still being in school,” he said. “I would not have known how to do the food ordering or pricing without my time at TCC.”
After earning his Associate of Applied Science in Culinary Arts in May 2019, Wellington was given the position of Sous-Chef. Today he is considered the kitchen problem solver. He is second-in-command and works directly under the Executive Chef. He handles inventory, creates daily specials, prices menu items and ensures that the kitchen runs like a well-oiled machine.
Accreditation ensures a quality education
TCC’s associate degree is accredited by The American Culinary Federation (ACF). TCC culinary graduates who maintain a student membership in the ACF are automatically awarded the first industry-level certification, which is Certified Culinarian.
“Most of my colleagues were trained at the costly, for-profit schools in the area,” Wellington said. “What I know is that from day one, I’ve had the skills and held my own in every area of the kitchen.”
Finding love and adventure along the way
Wellington launched his career from TCC, but he also found love. His girlfriend, Gabrielle Lozano, also graduated with her culinary degree and is now a chef at The Stockpot in Norfolk. The couple travels abroad and recently did a European food tour tasting national dishes from several places.
Find out more
Do you have a passion for food? Learn from expert faculty chefs who combine practical experience and academic perspective in all course work and integrate computer applications in all classes.
TCC’s Culinary Arts program is offered on the Norfolk Campus. For more information, contact Chef Don Averso at Daverso@tcc.edu.