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Tampa nonprofit Junior Chefs of America helps teen culinary stars get sous-chef certified

Junior Chefs use food to connect to community
Junior Chefs of America
Posted at 5:32 AM, Jul 27, 2022

TAMPA, Fla. — Dominic Setilo has earned his "chef" title.

The 18-year-old culinary superstar, along with Holly Arthur and others, just earned a sous-chef certification at Junior Chefs of America, a Tampa nonprofit that uses food to connect to and enrich the community.

"The program really elevates me and pushes me forward to be the best chef I can be, the best person I can be, and to make the best food I can make," said Setilo.

The five-week sous-chef certification for teenagers — a no-cost program thanks to sponsors and help from the community — is just one of many culinary programs at Junior Chefs of America, which offers courses and opportunities for all ages.

The nonprofit's mission is food and opportunity for all, fighting food insecurity and hunger with outreach, as well.

The big beating heart of JCOA is executive director Nadina Taylor, a tireless force of good who wrote the book that students studied for the junior sous-chef program. Her first group of budding culinary stars just graduated at a ceremony in the Marriott Tampa Westshore.

With mentoring from such pro chefs as De Shawn Mason at Candy's Sweetbreads and Karen Robinson at Legacy Provisions, the experience has been emotional and fulfilling for everyone.

"It's been a journey we've been waiting to do for years," said Taylor. "I just wanted to cry!"

Next up for some of the new sous chefs? An apprenticeship at New York New York Pizza in Ybor City.

Open registration for the next class of junior sous chefs — ages 15 to 18 years old — begins this Aug. 15.

For more information on the Junior Chefs of America, click here.