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Ania Cox’s Experience in Our Dining Services Apprenticeship Program

May 30, 2023

A Remarkable Apprenticeship Journey

Last Fall, Ania Cox accepted an apprenticeship in Dining Services at The Hickman. Toni Kelly, Executive Director, and Rodney Sykes, Director of Culinary Services, agreed that “Ania was an easy choice as she is hard-working and takes great pride in any work that she does. She is a team player that leads by example and always does it with a smile on her face. Ania’s leadership and team player qualities are something you do not find often; her ceiling can be as high as she wants it to be.” said Sykes.

The apprenticeship program is provided to The Hickman through Argentum under the HAEP Grant. Argentum is the lead for the $6 million project funded by a four-year U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration Closing the Skills Gap grant called the Healthcare Apprenticeship Expansion Program (HAEP). Ania has completed about 100 hours or 50% of the program. Her goal is to finish her remaining hours by the end of May 2023. The courses are conveniently located on an app called Lobster Ink, allowing her to learn online using her laptop or even her mobile phone—a feature she appreciates for its convenience and accessibility.

A New Passion Realized

Interestingly, Ania initially pursued the dining services position for financial reasons and had no particular interest in pursuing a culinary career. However, her experience in the apprenticeship has sparked a passion for learning about cooking, especially food science. Food science draws from many disciplines, including biology, chemical engineering, and biochemistry, to better understand food processes and improve food products. She has completed courses about the foundations of nutrition, grains, and legumes and learned to make different sauces in one class, such as the classic French bechamel. It is a versatile, creamy white sauce and one of the five French mother sauces. Currently, Ania is taking the class: Soup and Stock Productions.

Ania delves into the architecture of flavors and flavor dynamics and explores the development of a plant-forward kitchen. This style of cooking and eating, championed by Menus of Change—a collaboration between the Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health—Department of Nutrition, prioritizes plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, plant oils, and herbs.

Her passion for creating delicious dishes extends beyond her work at The Hickman, as she spends her free time experimenting with sautéed and seared vegetables, preparing flavorful stir-fries, and customizing a variety of salads using an array of greens for her and her wife.

Exploring New Horizons in the Culinary Arts

The HAEP Apprenticeship program has opened many new doors for her in the culinary field. Already this experience has added more responsibility to her position as lead-plater and some cooking. While she is motivated by learning new things, Ania is grateful for the incremental pay increases as she reaches milestones within the program.

Ania now sees herself as a mentor to her co-workers, enthusiastically sharing what she has learned. She aspires to continue her career in Dining Services, aiming for management positions or even becoming a chef. She is excited to see where her newfound passion for cooking will lead her, with dreams of potentially opening her own salad shop someday.