The classes held at the Garden at AT&T Park aren’t just kid stuff. Twenty teenagers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco’s Citywide Teen Services recently visited to learn about careers in the food service industry from Bon Appétit Management Company.
Manager of Food Education for Children Hannah Schmunk kicked things off. “We cook our food from scratch,” she said. “That includes sauces, stocks, salad dressings, salsas, and soups. Whoa, that was a lot of S’s!” she joked. She also highlighted Bon Appétit’s sustainability and community-focused programs; commitment to upholding farmworkers’ rights; efforts to purchase humanely raised meat, sustainable seafood, and cage-free eggs; and using food as a means to build community.
Program Manager Sam Wilder and Program Coordinator Nora Cata then guided students through the garden, where they tasted herbs, harvested kale, and made plant-based pizzas. AT&T Park’s Director of Catering Brian Carriveau, Head Farmer for the Garden at AT&T Park Sara Gilligan, and Executive Chef of Concessions Toussaint Potter (aka Chef T) soon joined in. Part career panel, part Q&A, they drew from their backgrounds and perspectives to offer insights and advice.
Chef T shared the story of his path to becoming a chef, starting with filleting fish in the Virgin Islands as a boy, to traveling the world to study and cook. After being in the food service industry for over 40 years, his advice for aspiring chefs was to “study and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.”
Brian got involved in the food industry working at Yosemite’s Ahwahnee Hotel, where he trained as a busser, waiter, and bartender. Brian joined the ballpark team as a catering server in 2006 and worked many different roles before his current position. His advice: “I always start my day by saying hi to everyone in the building before I sit down at my desk.”
Farmer Sara started her career in the food industry working in restaurants and cafés. “I love feeding people,” said Sara. “And one day I asked myself: ‘What if I worked on a farm and actually grew the food?’” Her advice for an aspiring farmer or anyone working toward a career is, “If you want to do something, start by volunteering.”
A flatbread pizza dinner followed, during which one student challenged Chef T to a future cook-off. Chef T agreed, so long as the competitors promise to use only seasonal ingredients!
Submitted by Sam Wilder, Garden at AT&T Park Program Manager