COOKING UP A DREAM: Root is planting seeds for success for Lynn chef

Eddie Soriano, a Lynn resident, is planting the seeds for his dream job as a chef through a workforce training program called Root. (Spenser Hasak)

SALEM — If Eddie Soriano had it his way, the chef-in-training would be aboard an international cruise ship cooking cuisine and coasting around the world.

In the meantime, the Lynn resident is planting the seeds for that dream job through a workforce training program called Root.

Root offers a 12-week, 200-hour, workforce training program that uses food preparation and service as its vehicle for teaching career and life skills.

Soriano, 22, who graduated from Methuen High School, learned about the company from being involved in Youth Villages, a non-profit centered around strengthening the child’s family and support system.

Participants, called “program partners,” learn hands on, which Soriano said he appreciates.

Soriano takes the bus from Lynn to get to the Shetland Park kitchen, which has 10 partners who will be finishing their training in January before their next group of 20 participants begins that month.

In Salem, Root has a 6,000 square foot space that operates as the culinary training program, as well as a cafe and hall for guests, all run by the program.

Before Root, Soriano worked at Bertucci’s, but said that he was memorizing the recipes as opposed to learning how to make them.

As part of the program, the partners get real world  experience through an externship in a restaurant,  which begins during their fifth week and continues until the end of the program.

Restaurants involved in the externship program include the Ledger, Hawthorne Hotel, and Fitz, just to name a few. Soriano is currently learning the ropes at Flatbread Company, which started in Amesbury in 1998 and opened a Salem location recently.

“Currently we’re looking to branch out to Beverly which is a hotspot for restaurants right now,” said Beth Alaimo, Program Director. “We’re also looking at Lynn as we start to bring in more people from that area.”

While at Root, Soriano has learned recipes and practices, such as being able to knead bread, make sauce, muffins, and deboning a chicken.

He’s also learned things like the proper way to store foods in a refrigerator, for instance, meat goes toward the bottom to prevent dripping and contaminating other shelves.

His favorite dish made thus far is the pizza which was done from scratch, he said. However he still wants to learn how to make fried calamari.

Through the help of Root, Soriano has also gotten help creating a résumé and preparing for a job interview.

Alaimo said one of the goals at Root isn’t just to prepare future culinary experts, but to give their partners the skills to maintain a job, deal with conflicts at work, and handle themselves when things don’t go as planned.

At the end of the 12 weeks, the partners receive a $500 payment only if they complete all the parts to the program, she said.

His dream job is to be a chef on a cruise ship so he can not only see the wonders of the world but to be able to dock at different locations and learn custom dishes made in that place.

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