Changing lives, one recipe at a time.
Graduate Success Stories
Shereen Abdelfattah emigrated to the United States from Egypt with her family in 2002 because her husband was completing a college degree at the time. They moved to the Triad, North Carolina, area in 2009. Around 2014, she began to notice an influx of Syrian refugees in her community and wanted to support them, knowing they’d be coming from having lived through a war and trying to resettle into a new country. What better way than through food, she thought.
“World Relief Triad helped many families through the resettlement process so I wanted to provide a way for women to find financial stability during an uncertain time,” Abdelfattah says. “I love food and using it to bring people together while sharing recipes from my culture."
Food is the best way to connect people together from all backgrounds, according to Abdelfattah. It’s one of the few times people can sit down at one table and start to a conversation and make new friends, even if they don’t know each other.
After attending Providence's Culinary Training Program, she launched Delicious by Shereen, as a catering company to help local refugees find financial independence as they adjust to life in the Triad area. Abdelfattah believes in giving people "a hand up instead of a handout" and uses food as a way to bring people across cultures together.
Delicious by Shereen currently works with mostly Syrian women and supports five to 10 refugee families, many who have overcome incredible circumstances and some who are the sole supporters for their families.
We had a hunch about Daryl “DJ” Myers as he walked up to get his Providence Culinary Training (PCT) diploma. We weren’t sure what it was, but we thought that he was about to make something good happen. And he did, something very good in fact, especially if you have a sweet tooth. DJ launched the now very successful DJ’s Cheesecakes, making and selling his homemade cheesecakes in an incredible variety of flavors.
It was clear to us that successful graduation from PCT wasn’t the end of DJ’s story, but, of course, DJ’s story doesn’t start with PCT either. After working for years as a CNA and getting in trouble with the law, DJ decided he wanted to make his own way independently and find something he truly loved to do that would fill his life and heart. With the help of Goodwill Industries, he found PCT, which he thought would be a good fit because he already loved to cook.
PCT students learn a lot of things, from kitchen safety and protocol to knife skills: some days you can find the students finely dicing buckets upon buckets of carrots and celery and looking a little weary. Over the 13-week PCT curriculum, students learn how to prepare dressings and sauces, roasts and briskets, and soups from recipes that serve hundreds. But it was the day that they learned about cheesecake that DJ knew he was hooked.
He posted a picture of the cheesecakes he made on social media and the response was incredible. He truly enjoyed making them and wanted to perfect the art; the response from social media indicated there must be a market. So, DJ made his first attempt at selling his cheesecakes during Thanksgiving –and he was more successful than he had ever expected. This was something he needed to take seriously.
DJ’s Cheesecakes is now an established business. He says the response has been unbelievable and is “motivation in itself.” He sells whole cheesecakes and slices on a weekly basis throughout Winston-Salem; he is even selling to various restaurants and businesses throughout town.
We are huge supporters and fans of DJ’s Cheesecakes. He says his friends and family are huge supporters as well—some of his biggest advocates. DJ obviously spends a lot of time making cheesecake, but he doesn’t want to want to lose sight of what’s important: his family, friends, and the relationships he’s creating with his new business.
DJ says that his time and training at PCT “is the root of everything that I’m trying to accomplish” For DJ, PCT means “unlimited possibilities.” We can all see that in everything DJ has achieved thus far.
Want to try a slice of DJ’s Cheesecakes? Keep up with where he is during the week on his Facebook Page!
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Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest NC
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