As Chef Paul Wahlberg organized his ingredients in the cooking area of the culinary classroom at Central Campus, students moved a little more quickly to put on their chef aprons and hats and find a seat.
They were young sponges as Wahlberg shared his favorite spices and methods of cooking. He told them he is a big fan of their choice to seize the opportunity to learn a craft while still in high school, and of schools like Central Campus, which offer career training to students.
“All of your friends may be going off to college,” said Wahlberg. “You can start working in your field — today.”
Wahlberg got his start spending time in the family kitchen with his mother Alma. According to Paul, his cooking was influenced by the Sunday suppers he shared at home with family and friends. At age 16, he began working as a caterer and after graduating high school, he spent time in several kitchens around Boston before opening his restaurant Alma Nove. Eventually, he opened 50+ locations of Wahlburgers in North America and Europe.
Wahlberg’s history struck a chord with 2nd-year culinary arts student Joshua Hall.
“I enjoyed hearing about his journey of starting as a dishwasher and becoming the owner of multi-million-dollar businesses,” said Hall.
Wahlberg said he enjoys sharing the story of finding the intersection of what he loves, what he’s good at, and what will serve the greater good.
“What it means to cook for a living and the passion that you need and the drive and the energy that it takes, but it’s also the love you have for it. It’s amazing. Once you get hooked, it’s hard to shake.”
Central Campus chef and educator Matthew Padgett said the visit gave students real-world insights into the culinary industry.
“Having someone like Chef Wahlberg spend time with our students was an exciting and valuable opportunity,” said Padgett. “Interacting with a professional chef can inspire students.”
Photos of Chef Paul Wahlberg’s visit to Central Campus