DERRY — It was time for some good conversation at Pinkerton Academy.
Students enrolled in the school’s Career and Technical Education Program’s culinary arts program met with area professionals for the next installment of the “Conversation Cafe.”
The series is part of the CTE department’s goal to give students a chance to learn some valuable information from professionals in certain fields like food service, hospitality, technology and other career choices.
Pinkerton CTE staff member and career counselor Doug Cullen said it’s a program they hope to expand upon in the future.
“It’s worked out really great,” he said.
The Greater Derry Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is also part of the series, partnering with Pinkerton and helping line up the professionals to come to come to the school to speak to students.
Students heard from professionals including La Carreta’s Eddie Leon; Cort Mendez, owner of Five Guys Burgers in New Hampshire; Tom Boucher of T-Bones, Cactus Jack’s and Copper Door; Elliot Gould, Render Edge Media; Lisa DeSisto Spofford of Rig-A-Tony’s; and Melanie Davis, co-owner of the Grind Rail Trail Cafe in downtown Derry.
All visitors shared their experiences in the hospitality/restaurant business and gave students a chance to ask questions.
“It’s all about finding your passion,” Spofford told students.
She began in the restaurant field not as a chef, but working more in other areas of management. She finally opened her own business 14 years ago on West Broadway in Derry.
Leon’s family owns more than 40 restaurants scattered across many states. He said this business is all he’s ever known.
“And like any business there are successes and failures,” he said.
Others pointed out that it takes a lot of hard work, but there are many areas in the field that are successful career choices.
“You can take something simple and make something special,” Spofford said. “I’ve always followed that philosophy.”
The next “Cafe” will focus on technology, Cullen said, with approximately 170 students already interested in participating.