Malik Waddy Building Life Skills

“It’s been such a privilege to work with Malik and see him grow year after year in our program,” notes Kendall College Trust Executive Director Catherine De Orio.

High school junior Malik Waddy benefited so much from the Kendall College Trust Culinary Camp he decided to attend three summer sessions over the past two years, the most recent of which just wrapped in July. “It was so much fun,” he says. “It was really my first time getting hands-on culinary training.”

Many of Malik’s rich experiences took place outside the camp’s well-equipped kitchens. “It’s a good program to be a part of, because you’re introduced to a lot of new things,” he says, noting he once took a group excursion to the local farmer’s market with a nutritionist, who then taught campers how to use organic produce to create inventive healthful dishes, like avocado chocolate pudding and carrot and squash noodles.

Malik also got a taste of the spotlight while participating in several broadcast interviews on behalf of the camp. “A lot of people that have seen me on TV were like, ‘You look like a natural in the kitchen!’ so it kind of made me even more comfortable, because culinary arts is something I really want to do,” says the 16-year-old student.

“It’s been such a privilege to work with Malik and see him grow year after year in our program,” notes Kendall College Trust Executive Director Catherine De Orio. “We are so excited to discover what’s in store for such a promising young talent.”

One person already in the know? Malik’s biggest foodie fan, his mom, who first introduced him to the world of fine dining on special trips to restaurants around Chicago — and further afield.

“We like to travel so every time we go somewhere we go to one of the top restaurants in that place,” Malik says. “I started trying to experiment on my own and create the dishes that I had,” such as Panko- and coconut-crusted fried lobster tail in Puerto Rico, “and that’s how [my passion for food] really started.”

Now the aspiring chef spends “a lot” of time in the kitchen at home. In fact, Malik’s mom used to be known for her special lamb dish, but she’s relinquished her crown since she likes his version better. “She’s always: ‘Oh, you’re going to cook today,” Malik says. “She actually loves it.”

With all the Kendall Culinary Camp sessions —made possible thanks to generous donors like Conagra Brands Foundation—under his belt, the teen looks forward to continuing his education after graduating next year from Urban Prep Brownsville, where he is a defensive tackle on the high school’s football team.

However, “it’s not my dream to go to the NFL,” Malik says. “When I go to college to play football, I’m going to take business classes and major in business. After I graduate, I plan on going to culinary school.”

And he’ll always be thankful for KCT, the Kendall College Trust Culinary Camp and donors for helping him get there. “It’s a good opportunity if you love to cook,” he says of the camp. “But even if you don’t, it’s still a good opportunity because you’re learning different [life] skills.”

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