Going the distance in the culinary world

Julia Child once said, “Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.” I have been told that the restaurant industry is too hard, that it was just a phase I was going through, and that I would not make enough money to support myself. I never once took that feedback seriously, because I knew that I would be happy with my life if I did what I loved. Many years down the road I entered high school and everyone thought I would change my opinion, but they were all very wrong.


During my sophomore year in high school I enrolled into a fundamental cooking class and during that time I realized there was a culinary team and I immediately wanted to join. The next year I tried out and made it and from that moment my life changed.

ProStart changed my life in so many ways with connections, life lessons, experience and the opportunity to shine as a young inspiring chef. Our team placed first at a ProStart competition and even more doors opened for me.

My senior year in high school was the time for me to finally decide what I was going to do with my future. I was going to become a chef until our culinary team that year did not place in the Minnesota State Culinary competition.

With the motivation of a woman who supported me through so many struggles in life and never let me think less of myself or my abilities I was pushed to become the women I am today. My teacher, Monique Sabby molded me, she believed in me and she pushed me to further my passion and not let one competition bring me down.

Before I knew it I was in college at one of the top three culinary schools in the United States. Three years later I have accomplished more in my life than I thought possible and I have been honored by my school in many different ways.

In my first year at New England Culinary Institute (NECI) I started an internship where after eight months I was given a raise and assigned the position of sous chef. It was a position that had much more responsibility and I handled it like a boss! I still work at the same restaurant leading the team and having fun at the same time.

My second year at NECI I was feeling the leader come more and more out of me and so were the students I worked with and teachers I worked under. I was awarded the shiny shoe award at a dinner we had, which recognized me for clean uniform, ability to have a clean station and my teamwork. Later on that night I found out I was also nominated for the silver tong award, which indicated the person who was most likely to be a head chef and worked well as a leader.

To know I was nominated for both made me work even harder my next year at NECI and during my second year I was selected as one of seven students to represent the school in Germany for twelve days.

In my third year I was nominated as a student ambassador by the NECI faculty. Being a student ambassador puts pressure on me to always have high standards, because I am a model to the younger students entering the program.

I often get told I am overworking myself, being a student ambassador and being a full time student. But when you love what you do there is no such thing as overworking yourself either way I am going to be thinking of food so I might as well get paid to talk to others about my love for NECI and the culinary field. I have realized how far you can go in the industry as long as you have the faith in yourself.

This is a guest post from Tori Newbauer, a former ProStart student and current student at the New England Culinary Institute.

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