Reid, who served with EcoSpaces Education at Philips Academy Charter School in Paterson, New Jersey, will appear on Food Network’s Chopped on November 19. We asked Reid a few questions about Chopped, his FoodCorps service, and his love of food. Tune in on Tuesday, November 19 at 9PM EST to see Reid compete to be the next Chopped champion!
FoodCorps: Tell us about how you discovered your passion for food and cooking.
Reid: I have always loved food. I cooked with my mom when I was younger, but my passion for it came from working in my first restaurant. When I was 14 years old I got a job washing dishes at a place called Blue Plate Special. I loved asking the chef questions about how he did certain things: poach an egg, flip an omelette, cut vegetables, and so on. Learning from him and being around all that food was the first time I realized my passion for food.
I originally wanted to be a teacher. I attended a vocational technical school my senior year of high school and when first looking at the program knew I wanted to apply for culinary arts. Unfortunately the spots were full, but I ended up in the childhood development program which helped me discover my love for working with kids. After graduating in 2017 I was in college to become a teacher. After one semester, I realized it wasn’t worth the money when it wasn’t making me happy. I dropped out of college, and looked into opportunities involving food and kids. After discovering EcoSpaces and taking my first visit to PACS Newark, I knew I wanted to be involved. The director was nice enough to let me volunteer weekly, as I was working at a church’s aftercare and doing maintenance. Soon after I was introduced to FoodCorps, and knew my next step was to apply for that opportunity.
I was never very big into cooking shows or competitions, but had definitely watched Chopped the most. The application for the show was provided by FoodCorps, but my fellow service member in New Jersey and dear friend sent it along and pushed for me to apply! If it weren’t for the endless support of everyone from FoodCorps, service members and staff, I would not have had the confidence and drive to apply and make it happen. I am extremely thankful for the caring and kind people that FoodCorps has brought into my life. I will have them forever.
What are some memorable lessons you learned during your FoodCorps service?
FoodCorps taught me a lot of lessons throughout my service. I think the biggest thing I took away, however, was that communication is key. Being at the school all year helped me with my communication skills professionally as well as when to speak up when needed. I realize now, especially in a kitchen, how important it is to be communicating at all times. If you want something done it’s always going to start with communication. Your kindness to others should reflect in your communication, and the results will show.
What’s next for your culinary career?
I’m about halfway done with the culinary arts program at my school, The International Culinary Center. Once finishing training at the school, the last two months of the program will be an externship at a New York restaurant. I could end up in a restaurant in the city, or a restaurant at a farm. I really don’t know. My goal is to position myself around the best chefs possible. I want to learn from them. When I’m done in restaurants, whether it be my own or someone else’s, I see myself finding a way to get back into school food. There are so many great opportunities for school kitchens and I would love to lend a hand to those who need it.
Tune in to Food Network on Tuesday, November 19 at 9PM EST to see Reid compete to be the next Chopped champion!