#Powerofajob: Award winning culinary teacher’s career path helps “keep it real”

Happy Workforce Wednesday and Happy Hospitality Month!

As partners in Washington state’s WorkSource system and the American Job Center Network, the Employment Security Department helps people – unemployed or not – find new jobs and learn new skills. We help them experience the life-changing Power of a Job.

This week’s Power of a Job story features Kahale Ahina — the lead culinary arts instructor at Bonney Lake High School in Bonney Lake, Wash., and Washington’s 2018 ProStart Educator of Year. His passion is giving his students a robust introduction to the hospitality and food services industries.

Here’s his story:

My hospitality career started when I was a junior in high school and I landed a job delivering pizza. It wasn’t easy back then; we actually had to use maps in a book! After high school, I was introduced to event catering, and that was absolutely fun. I really enjoyed this job and did it off and on throughout college and during holidays.

After finishing school, I was one of the first staff hired at a fast/casual restaurant. Here, I worked in the front of the house (not in the kitchen) and stayed there for a year and a half. Next, I returned full time to the catering company, but this time worked in the back of the house (in the kitchen).

I didn’t really know how to cook on a large scale, but the chefs I worked with were great. They took time to teach me. I enjoyed learning from these people. It was a great experience; they turned on the light bulb for me.

That’s when I decided to become a high school instructor. It offered me the flexibility I needed for my family and fit my schedule well.

Now I teach a ProStart curriculum at Bonney Lake High School. It’s a series of three classes that builds on what we learn in each class. We do a lot of catering and we work in kitchens at local restaurants, where my students get authentic industry experiences. We also try to participate in as many competitions as we can find. I try to keep it exciting for the students and keep the learning real.

Did you know May is Hospitality Month? I encourage you to check out www.WAHospitalityCareers.com to learn more about the industry. My students investigate careers there, and I refer them to the site often.


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