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Meet the Food Staff: Chef Wadiya Gooden

Meet the Food Staff: Chef Wadiya Gooden

School Breakfast Week is the first week of March and is a wonderful opportunity for us to recognize our amazing food staff members! Learn more about Chef Wadiya Gooden, our Food Services Manager, and how her passion for cooking impacts the lives of our students.  

What is your favorite thing about your job? 

I love seeing the joy on the students’ faces when they get a good meal. It takes a village when it comes to helping students pick the right things to eat. They deserve to have the best food. 

Why do you feel it is important for students to have nutritious meals at school? 

Your behavior is tied to what you eat. When you put good things in, good things come out. Everything we make is from scratch. It is important to me that these students nourish themselves with good food so they can be productive and take on the day. And I feel we are seeing the results.  

What does a “day in the life” look like for you? 

When I walk in, I flip on the oven and get to cooking. I get breakfast ready by the time the students arrive, and we then start preparing for lunch. One of the best perks of working for a school is that I am usually out of here by four o’clock. This allows me to spend time with my family and be productive after work. Typically, chefs work very late nights and may not get out of work until two or three in the morning.  

Do you have any hobbies? 

I have been a chef my whole life and cooking is my passion. I own a spice company. I also age vanilla extract in bourbon barrels.  

What is your favorite thing on the menu? 

I love all of it, but I would say the Moroccan chicken stew. The students had never tried it before, so I convinced them to give it a shot and they loved it!  

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