My education definitely helped to prepare me in my career by showing me new and different foods and cuisine.” Latoya Larkin 2005 , The Art Institute of Atlanta
Teaches High School Students Basic and Advanced Culinary Arts
Chef LaToya Larkin is a culinary instructor and program coordinator for Spring Independent School District’s high school in Houston, Texas. She’s responsible for teaching students the concepts and principles of basic and advanced culinary arts, as well as restaurant management. She also oversees campus and district catering, weekly teacher luncheons, safety and sanitation, provides lectures, and instructs in both a kitchen lab and classroom setting. Outside of teaching, she also operates her own personal/catering business Not Enough Thyme Personal Chef Services and works on her non-profit organization, It’s Thyme 4a Change.
“I provide mentorship for students in a positive motivational manner along with career training instruction, direction, and assistance in culinary arts,” she says. Larkin works on lesson planning and curriculum writing, student engagement, and student competitions. Prior to her current position, she worked for Walker Quality Services as a district chef trainer consultant and for Morehouse College as a catering sous chef. Larkin is also a published author and currently working on more literature projects.
She says that a typical work day includes helping students to understand
culinary skills and build their technical skills. “We perform school at
district-wide events to provide students with internship opportunities for
real-world experiences and exposure to the food service industry.”
Larkin adds that her education at The Art Institute of Atlanta prepared her for a career by teaching her about world cuisine. “In school, I developed some of the best and long lasting relationships that I have to this day. I was able to work with—and learn from—some of the best chefs around.” She completed a Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts Management in 2005.
Larkin admits that the culinary industry is very challenging—and asserts that it’s important to maintain a positive, uplifting, and supportive network. “Welcome growth and stay true to yourself while being thankful. Stay humble ,no matter how much success you obtain,” she advises.
She used that mantra while working to find her place as a classroom instructor. New to the position, she had to prove herself by earning program grants, placing well in student culinary competitions, and helping students to successfully transition into employment. “Never get too comfortable and keep that fire burning. Accomplish everything that you set out to do.”
Today, she’s excited to be making an impact in her students’ lives. “I've
been an educator in public schools for six years and was nominated by my
students for the Sterling Shining Star Award. That speaks volumes on the
impact that I've had on my students and former students,” she says.
Larkin is also proud to be regarded as an expert in her field—a designation that allows her to branch out to help the community. “My culinary program has a partnership with the Houston Food Bank, where students volunteer and help to prepare meals for the Kids Cafe program.”