Fairbanks chef aims to help those re-entering the job market
FAIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — The Alaska Journal of Commerce recently announced its picks for Top 40 Under 40, among them a Fairbanks woman cooking up the job training scene in Fairbanks.
Danielle Flaherty, 36, manages Stone’s Throw, a culinary training program at Bread Line Inc. The chef instructor was one of three Fairbanks residents named one of the Top 40 Under 40.
Recipients are nominated for the award, and then chosen by a committee based on two main criteria: accomplishments in their field of expertise and community involvement.
Stone’s Throw is a 12-week culinary training program that provides career development through technical skills, food safety training and life skills.
Or, as Flaherty puts it, “Life skills through the culinary lens.”
More than just kitchen operations, Stone’s Throw teaches adults who are re-entering the work force accountability, personal responsibility, attendance, punctuality and the importance of taking feedback.
“When to just say ‘yes chef’ and walk away,” Flaherty explained.
Flaherty grew up in Anchorage and first moved to Fairbanks to attend the University of Alaska Fairbanks, eventually receiving a culinary degree through the Community and Technical College.
To follow up on her degree and utilize her passion for Alaskan agriculture, Flaherty did an internship with UAF’s Cooperative Extension Service, developing recipes for Alaska’s Farm to School program.
She worked with schools and child care facilities to help develop recipes appropriate for federal lunches while using Alaskan food.
“My first foray into how food can really be empowering,” she recalled.
Chef is not the first moniker Flaherty would bestow upon herself, saying “culinary educator” is more accurate, but she will graciously accept the title.
And education is what fuels her drive. Flaherty’s dream is to provide culinary education to rural Alaska, “For school cooks or for communities looking to use food that they can grow ... learn how to safely process and preserve, or working with traditional foods,” she said.
Flaherty takes other opportunities to teach as well, including her popular summer series, “Chef at the Market.”
Her desire to teach in is appropriately described by Flaherty’s view that cooking is about so much more than food.
“It’s about community, it’s about connection, and to share a meal together is something that brings people together.”
Finding a healthy, supportive community is one of Flaherty’s tips for people going through rough patches.
She teaches her job trainees “how to set goals and find people who believe in you.”
And for those who want to be a better chef, Flaherty’s advice is pretty straightforward.
“Don’t be afraid to fail epically.”
Information from: Fairbanks (Alaska) Daily News-Miner, http://www.newsminer.com