HOLYOKE, Mass.- The kitchen has always been a happy place for Mara Vargas-Gonzalez, and now she's in training to turn that passion into a full-time business.

"I started cooking when I was around 8 years old." said Vargas-Gonzalez. "Its when my grandmother started teaching me, and I did a lot of volunteer work at churches and just kept growing my skills a little bit more."

What You Need To Know

  • Mara Vargas-Gonzalez is a Holyoke Community College trainee at the free line cook training course

  • Each trainee will receive a certificate at the end of the five week program

  • Vargas-Gonzalez will take the ServSafe exam at the end of the course to become eligible to work in a commercial kitchen    

  • She'll start culinary school at Holyoke Community College in the fall and hopes to open her own food truck someday  

Vargas-Gonzalez is currently enrolled in the Holyoke Community College five-week free line cook training course to provide her with the necessary certification to one day realize her dream of opening up a food truck.

On Wednesday, she and her colleagues spent the morning preparing a chicken for a lunch they will be serving to a visiting group tomorrow.

"We're just breaking down the chicken," said Vargas-Gonzalez. "And just getting our skills of how to properly cut a chicken."

Vargas-Gonzales said the kitchen has been a safe haven since her childhood days cooking with her grandmother.

But even with her passion, she said that taking the next step in learning how to be a certified line cook is no easy task.

"Growing up we just grabbed the axe and called it a day and cut the chicken in whatever piece we could get." said Vargas-Gonzalez. "But learning how to properly cut it and get it right, it's a great experience."

‚ÄčThe Holyoke Community College culinary course provides each trainee with a line cook certification at the end of the program.

The course will also offer each student an opportunity to take the ServSafe exam, which if passed, will grant them permission to work in a commercial kitchen.

Vargas-Gonzalez said passing the exam would mean a lot to her and her future goals of opening up her own food truck someday.

"Also for me personally, it would be that I completed something that I thought I wasn't going to be able to complete," said Vargas-Gonzalez. "And accomplish and going towards my own goal of having my own business in the future."

Vargas-Gonzalez said her cooking journey has only begun as she plans to enroll as a student in the Holyoke Community College culinary program in the fall.