Aliyah N. poses for a portrait at the National Harbor. Aliyah is now working full time for her own catering business, “Takes Thyme Catering”.
Aliyah N. first realized her culinary talent as a teenager when her picky brother loved the chicken she prepared for her family while her mother was at work.
It wasn’t until she was 19 that she would get the chance to learn and work professionally in a kitchen. Aliyah had been experiencing homelessness since her freshman year of high school when she first began the Culinary Job Training program in 2014. After hearing about the program from a CJT student in the shelter she was staying in with her family at the time, she decided to apply.
“He wrote down directions word for word on how to get to the office. I went as soon as I could,” she said.
When Aliyah enrolled, she was the youngest person in her the program by several years. In the self-empowerment class, her instructors moved her seat closer to the front of the room to encourage her to gain confidence in speaking up.
During Aliyah’s time at DCCK she worked with Marianne Ali, our legendary late Culinary Job Training director who passed away in 2017.
“Marianne Ali really worked with me and supported me. I loved her to death. I miss her dearly,” she said.
After graduating Aliyah immediately took a job with Marriott Marquis and became the youngest person to work in their kitchen. But her desire for knowledge didn’t stop there.
“When I was working at Marriott, I hopped around to different stations to learn as much as I could. I told people ‘I might annoy you from asking too many questions’,” she said with a laugh.
After seven years of growing her skills in hotel kitchens, Aliyah has made the bold choice to become an entrepreneur and commit full-time to her catering business.
“One of the things I learned in CJT was to not half-ass anything and that ‘good work takes good time’. That’s why I named my catering business ‘Takes Thyme Catering’,” said Aliyah.
But cooking isn’t just a job for the 26-year-old chef and entrepreneur. When her personal life gets stressful, she turns to cooking.
“It’s therapeutic to work with my hands and concentrate on creating a dish,” she added.
Though it’s been seven years since she graduated from CJT, Aliyah is still proud to represent DC Central Kitchen saying, “It’s a part of my foundation. I couldn’t ask for more.
Support the personal and professional growth of our CJT graduates in their journey to become Hunger Fighters by donating to DC Central Kitchen TODAY.