Daniela Grimes, a 19 year old, African-American, City of Santa Monica “opportunity youth” and Santa Monica High School graduate, was unemployed and living in a CCSM affordable housing unit. She learned about the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) program from her mother who attended a presentation by HTA staff at a holiday event at her building. Upon enrolling with the HTA, Daniella immediately underwent a series of trainings that included everything from resume writing and interviewing skills to dressing for success and customer service skills training. Excelling in the program and eager to embark on an exciting new career in the hospitality sector, Daniela had the opportunity to interview for a position at LAX Airport where she was quickly hired by Areas USA to work as a Cashier at Sammy’s Woodfire Grill, in Terminal 4 where she sells on average $10,000-$13,000 in product per week and has earned the title of “Top Seller”. Having passed her probation period at work, Daniella is now a proud member of the union, UNITE HERE Local 11, and has a bright future – working a job with a good starting wage and a trajectory for career growth, built in salary increases and full benefits including medical and dental.
Jiraporn “Linda” was born and raised in a small town in Thailand by her mother, with her sister and three brothers. She attended school until the age of 15, and later opened up her own small clothing boutique. Linda’s sister arrived in the United States and sent for her in 1989. Linda left her mother and three brothers back in Thailand so that she could seek better opportunities in America. Linda was still young and could only babysit her newborn nephew while her sister worked. Linda looked for a job for a year but because she did not have her working papers and she did not speak English well, she was only able to work as a cook in small Thai restaurants throughout the Los Angeles area. In 1996, Linda and her sister decided to send for their mother to come to the United States because their mother was aging and they desperately wanted to care for her. It took 10 years for Linda to get her working papers, complete her mother’s paperwork and earn the money to bring her mother to this county, but in 2006, Linda’s mother made it to Southern California and was reunited with her daughters. Linda sought a higher paying job with health benefits. In 2007, Linda was hired by HMS Host as a Fry Cook at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and joined the UNITE HERE Local 11 Union. In 2012, Linda was laid off from HMS Host, as her restaurant closed down due to the $4.1 billion dollar modernization project at LAX. Linda possessed limited cooking skills, but was able to fry foods and prepare Thai cuisine. Linda heard about the Hospitality Training Academy’s (HTA) training program, and its culinary instructors from both HTA and Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC). The class met five days a week, 8 hours a day, at an LAX commissary for 320 total hours of culinary training. Linda tested into the program, and enrolled. Linda hoped to advance her culinary skills and find better employment with her upgraded skills upon graduation. Linda excelled in the training program and earned a blue neckerchief as one of the top students for attendance, grades and class participation. In 2013, HMS Host rehired Linda in a higher job classification, as a Cook 2, with a pay raise, and she returned to UNITE HERE Local 11 as a proud member. Linda said that the best thing about the class was learning all the different cooking techniques and honing her knife skills. She enjoyed making food from scratch, including the five Mother sauces. Linda also loved to prepare new cuisines, such as Italian and Mexican. One of the challenges that Linda faced is the language barrier in both English and Spanish, but she has, and will, continue to study hard every day. Linda sees the Culinary Arts as her lifetime career, and is learning and growing so that she may accomplish all of her dreams and goals in life.
Levinia was always raised to believe that when opportunities come your way, you have to grab them. The oldest of three, Livinia was originally born in Compton, California but later moved to the community of Rowland Heights in the San Gabriel Valley after her parents divorced. As a product of a single-parent household and coming from a family situation where she had no interaction with her father, Livinia was called upon to step-up and help out with the family from an early age. As such she learned the importance of having a good work ethic, as well as how to be a high achiever and endure whatever life throws your way. Growing up, some of Levinia’s favorite memories are of learning to cook all types of food with her mother, who took great pleasure in exposing Livinia and her siblings to all sorts of cuisines from around the world. In Livinia’s house, cooking was not viewed as a household chore, but rather as a way in which to bring the family together. As such, Livinia always had a great affinity for cooking, but it wasn’t until she enrolled in the Culinary Training Class offered by the Los Angeles Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) that she discovered she had the ability to turn her passion for cooking into her dream job by becoming a chef. Prior to joining the HTA culinary training class, Livinia worked a number of jobs to help support her family within the food service sector at such companies as El Pollo Loco and Chillis at LAX, where she was recently one of 52 workers laid-off as part of the LAX Airport modernization plan that is replacing lower-end chain/fast food restaurants with local eateries that offer fresh, made-from scratch, cuisine prepared by a well-trained culinary staff. As a union member with UNITE HERE Local 11, however, Livinia was able to participate in the HTA’s free 8-week (320 hour) culinary program. The class, which was led by top instructors from Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC), met for five days a week for 8 hours a day and was made possible with the help of Workforce Investment Act (WIA) program training funds made available by Community Career Development’s Compton WorkSource Center through a grant from the County of Los Angeles. Distinguishing herself as a stellar student in the class, Levinia says she was blessed to be part of the HTA program through which she attributes finding out, without a doubt, that cooking is the career for her. Since graduating the HTA program in June 2013, Levinia has been re-hired by HMS Host and is very excited to now training be training to work at the Umami Burger that is opening at the LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal. Further down the road, Levinia looks forward to opening up her own restaurant one day, which she promises will, in tribute to what her mother so lovingly taught her growing up, will focus on diversity and will offer a wide array of foods featuring the cuisines from around the world.
Evelyn was born in a small city called Puerto Barrios in Guatemala. Her mother moved to the United States when she was young and later sent for Evelyn to come live with her and attend school when she was 9 years old. Growing up in a single parent household, Evelyn learned at an early age that, although she may face many challenges in life, with dedication and hard work she could meet those challenges head on and accomplish her goals. With that in mind, Evelyn, who had always had a knack for baking and cooking – a passion that was instilled in her by her mother at an early age, set her sights on doing all in her power to one day become a chef. Toward that goal, she took a job at LAX where she worked in a bakery for nine years. However, her position was eliminated due to the LAX modernization that forced the closure of her restaurant. Dreaming of becoming a full fledged chef and of opening her own restaurant one day, Evelyn learned from her UNITE HERE Local 11 union representative about the Los Angeles Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) and an 8-week Culinary Training Program being funded by WIA Training dollars distributed to WorkSource Centers by the City of Los Angeles. Realizing immediately that this training would help her find new employment and advance toward her goal of becoming a chef while also giving her the opportunity to pursue a higher paying job in her career of choice and better provide for herself and her two children, Evelyn eagerly met with the Community Career Development (CCD) WorkSource Center, and applied for and was accepted into the program. The 320 hour culinary class, which was led by top instructors from Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC) and the HTA, met five days a week, 8 hours a day. As part of the class, Evelyn learned about everything from knife handling to specialty cuts to how to execute various methods of cooking. At the same time, she developed skills and leadership qualities that she knew would take her to new heights in her career, including the importance of being part of a team and the ability to provide great customer service. Evelyn graduated the HTA’s culinary class in June 2013 and is now working as a culinary lead at HMS Host. But her journey is far from over, as Evelyn reports that taking this class has motivated her to go back to school and has sparked in her a renewed love for cooking far beyond what she already had. Accordingly, Evelyn has plans to continue her education and will be pursuing her AA Degree in Culinary from LATTC. She is also looking forward to using her skills and talents to open up her own Italian restaurant some time in the future.
Jovie grew up with his grandmother, who originated from the South. Accordingly she instilled in Jovie the values of Southern hospitality, including the importance of being warm and welcoming, keeping a clean home, and being attentive to all people and things. It is these traits that Jovie has always strived to carry with him, knowing these values would be essential to his ability to get ahead in life. A single parent of a four year old boy, Jovie has juggled a number of full and part-time jobs over the years, from working for 1 1/2 years at a Starbucks to 6 months at a Wing Stop to a part-time position with Universal Protection Security, all in an effort to better provide for his son and create a good and stable life for them both. But, no matter the job, Jovie has found that hospitality and good customer service, much like his grandmother in grained in him, has indeed been the common thread linking all of his jobs and pushing him to go further. A people person at heart, Jovie has always tended to gravitate towards jobs that allow him to interact with people of different cultures and backgrounds. Accordingly, when Jovie came across an online announcement for a Job Fair being sponsored by the Hospitality Training Academy (HTA) at Watts Labor Community Action Committee’s WorkSource Center in Southeast Los Angeles, he raced over to attend in the hopes of being selected for a job opening at one of the new concessions opening up at LAX in the Tom Bradley International Terminal. Jovie’s winning personality and enthusiasm for working in the hospitality/food service sector at the airport quickly landed him an interview with AREAS USA a few weeks later, where he was immediately hired as a Barista for their new restaurant LAMill Coffee. Jovie was then placed in the HTA’s specialized Barista training class being taught by one of Los Angeles Trade Technical College’s (LATTC) leading Chef/Instructors, James M. Lisanti, on campus at the College. The four-day training program, which was provided at no cost to Jovie via a generous grant awarded to the HTA by Westfield to train new employees working at UNITE HERE Local 11 companies at LAX Airport, such as AREAS USA,. The class included ServSafe Food Handler’s training and certification by HTA, key customer service training provided by Los Angeles Valley College, and in-depth/hands-on instruction on the history, techniques, and systems need to be a barista provided by Chef Lisanti. Jovie is greatly looking forward to his new job at LAMill Coffee and is grateful to be a part of the training program being offered by HTA and LATTC. In fact, he says that, “I have learned more in my four days of training at LATTC about the history, background, knowledge and techniques of of serving coffee than I did while working at Starbucks.” Jovie acknowledges that hospitality plays an important role in his life and will touch all he does. With this in mind, he is eager to start his new job at LAX and to begin putting his new skills to use as he provides the utmost in service to the many travelers coming in an out of LAX every day.
Luis, a young man of Mexican heritage, is a native of the City of Los Angeles where he lives with his parents and a younger brother and sister. Possessing a love for hospitality that he attributes to his mother, a cook at LAMill Coffee in Silver Lake for over 17 years, Luis, with support from his mom, also found employment at LAMill, where he happily worked for 3 years successfully advancing from busser to server and finally barista. However, in December 2012, due to a cut in his hours, Luis had no choice but to leave his job at LAMill. Although sad not to be working as a barista any more – a job he truly enjoyed and would miss, Luis was able to find employment at LAX Airport as a ramp coordinator for American Eagle, which, because of its heavy focus on passenger service, still gave him the opportunity to interact with many people of different races, cultures and backgrounds on a daily basis – something he found most exciting. Accordingly, when Luis heard from a fellow employee about the opening of a new LAMill Coffee restaurant in the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX airport, he wasted no time in contacting AREAS USA, the concession management company for the property, to apply for the job. Luis was quickly hired and placed in a specialized barista training class being operated by the Hospitality Training Academy in conjunction with Los Angeles Trade Technical College (LATTC). The four-day class was offered to Luis at no cost as a result of a generous grant awarded to the HTA by Westfield to train new employees working at UNITE HERE Local 11 LAX Airport companies, such as AREAS USA. As part of his training, Luis participated in a comprehensive four day class on the campus of LATTC that included: ServSafe Food Handlers training and certification with the HTA; key customer service training geared toward the fast-paced, high volume airport environment provided by Los Angeles Valley College (LAVC); and in-depth/hands-on instruction on the history, techniques, and systems needed to be a barista provided by LATTC’s top Chef/Instructor James M. Lisanti. Luis is really looking forward to starting his new job as a barista at LAMill when it opens at the airport in January 2014. Of his training with HTA and LATTC, Luis reports that he is most grateful for the opportunity and found the class extremely helpful. In particular, as he it has been a year and half since he last worked as a barista, Luis says the class provided him with a great refresher on roasting coffee and making specialty drinks as well as information and the opportunity to work with new types of machines, which he knows will give him a huge advantage in his new job.