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Future chefs just out of high school get a boost at new Encore Job Training Center

Famed local chef Erik Youngs is their mentor
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Posted at 5:25 AM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-30 07:20:27-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Antwan Wells has big delicious dreams.

At Tampa's brand-new Encore Community Job Training Center, this future chef is learning that secret recipe for success.

"When I put my heart and my happiness into something, it always turns out great," said the 20-year-old, who studied culinary arts at Armwood High School.

The state-of-the-art center is a partnership between Hillsborough County Schools, the Tampa Housing Authority and the city. It helps post-high-school students realize their passions and start their careers.

The heart of the center is a gorgeous working kitchen and culinary classroom, all synergized by the heart, humor and wisdom of famed local chef Erik Youngs.

"Our industry is passion-driven, and we want to help those students with that passion," said Chef Youngs.

The culinary program — a satellite of Erwin Technical College — is a six-month course that offers industry certification. The students graduate ready for a restaurant job, of which there are many these days.

Wells said Chef Youngs is like a "father figure," and his guidance has helped the young student grow in the kitchen — and in life.

"I can see it, I can feel it," said Wells. "Progress as a cook and a person."

The Encore Community Job Training Center is at 620 E. 7th Avenue in Tampa. Interested applicants are welcome to visit or call 813-769-5180 for more information.