Toi Alegria loves to cook. In fact, she’d like to cook for you and teach you how to prepare meals in your own kitchen.

At 46, she’s seeking a new way of life after working as a nanny for 20 years and raising her children. “I went back to school to change my career,” she said. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking; it’s my passion. I want to have my own business.”

Alegria is a June 2016 graduate of the culinary arts program at Emily Griffith Technical College. Food production and Safe Serve practices were among the many subjects she studied; the latter covers such topics as proper booking temperatures, labeling and covering food.

“Most restaurants want you to have the Safe Serve certificate,” said Alegria, who also trained at the school’s ground-floor Emily’s Café. She also worked for three months at the Northern Shores restaurant at the Denver Zoo, preparing such food as pizzas, calzones, fries, garlic knots and homemade marinara sauce.
“I love it; it’s so beautiful there,” Alegria said. “And people are so good there.”

She lives near Buckley Air Force Base and sees a built-in audience. “There’s a huge market where I live,” Alegria said. “There’s a lot of older, retired military people, and they need that kind of help around here.”

She spent the summer practicing new recipes and babysitting her grandson. He’ll return to school in late August. Once she overcomes back problems, she plans to relaunch her business, which has two parts: Home cooking lessons and personal chef services.

Alegria did home teaching before her back acted up. Her customers chose recipes to work on; Alegria helped them to shop online for all ingredients, which King Soopers delivered. Then she would show them how to prepare the meals. “It’s always fun, something I enjoy so much,” she said.

“I’ve heard there’s such a need out there for people with cooking skills.”

The summer kitchen experiments have included a braided bread (“It turned out beautifully,” Alegria said) and various types of soup. She even taught a friend of her grandson how to make cupcakes, which he proudly brought home.

Alegria appreciates what Emily Griffith started and that the school has remained a bedrock of the community.

“Emily Griffith was an outstanding human being, she and her sister,” Alegria said. “I feel that what they started is definitely something that has continued and that they would be really proud today to see how far the school has come and how many people have an advantage now.

“Emily Griffith’s model was about teaching values and teaching abilities to go out and work, giving them the tools they need. I think values are very lacking in this world, and having value for things is very important.”