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Facebook Interns Who Chased Culinary Dreams

For Aaron Tutein and Denika Boyd it was a dream come true when they got the opportunity to work as interns in Facebook. Ironically though, these two residents of St. Croix, US Virgin Islands always have had culinary dreams to chase, but the fulfillment happened in the most extraordinary circumstances.

It all started when Josef Desimone, Executive Chef at Facebook, visited St. Croix as the judge for “A Taste of St. Croix”. The week long event is community fundraiser where a cooking competition is held for people to enjoy the food and wine of the island district. Along with Desimone, the other culinary experts from Facebook that attended the event were Dean Spinks and Tony Castellucci.

While the three chefs were, as part of their itinerary, working with CTEC, they got to meet Tutein and Boyd. CTEC is a local, vocation school where Tutein and Boyd were students of its culinary program. Desimone thought both these budding cooking experts had something about them and he promised them work at Facebook.

However, things didn't quite move as smoothly as was expected. Three months after the chance meeting, Desimone got involved in a motorcycle accident and was killed. Tutein and Boyd obviously thought that all their dreams were shattered, but it wasn't to be. Spinks and Castellucci, along with Billy Desimone, Josef’s brother, decided that they want to honor the promise made by their late colleague and brother. And so, a phone call was made to St. Croix.

It was Spinks, who charted out the 2-week internship program and Tutein and Boyd were asked to come and have an experience of a lifetime. They got involved in every aspect of making food at Facebook – ordering raw materials, storing the raw materials and preparing the ingredients for food to be cooked the next day. Spinks also helped the duo plan out a St. Croix happy hour theme for the Facebook employees and almost 1,500 dishes were prepared and sold for the theme.

The culinary dreams of the two Facebook interns were not just about cooking and serving food. Because they handled everything in the kitchen, they received important lessons in the art of leading and managing teams. They also earned how to manage time and most importantly, how to keep customers happy.

For Tutein and Boyd, nothing would have been possible without the help of the St. Croix Foundation. The foundation got to know about the internship program at the last moment and that it couldn't find a sponsor. But it still managed to raise $10,000 to fund the trip. The foundation believes that Tutein and Boyd can be role models for the young people of the island since St. Croix has the eighth highest homicide rate in the world and it could certainly do with some role models.

Tutein and Boyd and don’t know whether their culinary dreams will be fulfilled, but they are waiting. However, as Facebook interns they learned some valuable life lessons and they are now working to convert the internship program into something bigger and better.

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A P Thomas

A P Thomas

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