At 15-years-old, Kamryne Maytwayashing has big dreams to open her own restaurant and become a well-known chef and she’s on the fast track to achieving them.
The Grade 10 student heard about the youth volunteer program at Sam’s Place through a teacher who thought the experience would be the perfect start for her career in the food service industry.
Located in Winnipeg’s Elmwood neighbourhood, Sam’s Place is a volunteer run café and bookstore that is run by Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). If offers valuable mentorship and job training for youth to gain employable skills and experience. Volunteer training also includes serving and preparing food for large events for volunteers to get some hand’s on experience. Events like Sam’s Place holiday turkey dinner - an evening of food, music and eager to serve volunteers.
“I was really nervous in the beginning,” said Maytwayashing, who was busy prepping and plating the delicious Christmas dinner for the 30 guests who attended the event.
After only two months of working once a week as a line cook, Maytwayashing’s confidence in the kitchen and ability to work under pressure have grown tremendously.
“She did phenomenal,” said Laura Murray, Youth and Volunteer Engagement Coordinator for Sam’s Place. “We are really so proud of her.”
Last year the youth volunteer program had 20 graduates who either moved onto employment or found a job as a supervisor at Sam's Place. The youth volunteers are trained at various stations including roles such as barista and cashier before working in the kitchen as a line cook.
The program currently hosts 50 volunteers who come in for about five hours a week. Maytwayashing, who has been cooking for her family’s popular potlucks since she was a kid, was put in the kitchen right away.
“When she came in, she said she wanted to open up her own restaurant,” said Murray, adding that Maytwayshing picked up the pace very quickly. “Now, she basically runs this kitchen by herself,” joked Murray.
This is Maytwayashing’s first experience in the workplace and it has made a lasting impression. “I love it here,” she explained. “It’s a happy place to be. The volunteers who work here are very nice and welcoming.”
Now that she's had some experience, Maytwayashing hopes to increase her hours to twice a week and is looking forward to learning how to make drinks and take orders. However, that won’t stop her from focusing on learning new recipes and continuing to make some of her favourites.
“I love making mac and cheese,” Maytwayashing said, also chicken cordon bleu, spaghetti and white raspberry cake, she listed. Her Sam’s Place recommendation? “The buffalo chicken wrap, that’s definitely one of our hits.”
Volunteers at Sam’s Place stay for a minimum of three months until they feel they have enough experience or get a job in their chosen field. Murray hopes that Maytwayashing stays for awhile longer. “We love having her, she’s welcome to stay as long as she likes,” said Murray.
To learn more about Sam’s Place, visit http://sams.place.