Cooking is part of Yakelin Velasquez Lopez’s heritage. Growing up in a Hispanic home, cooking was part of Yakelin’s family dynamic and she developed a passion for it at a young age. During her junior year at Riverhead High School, Yakelin entered the Academy’s Culinary Arts Program to determine if she loved preparing food enough to make a career out of it. Today, Yakelin has no doubts. “This program 100 percent reassured me that this is what I want to do after school,” she said.
Now, Yakelin is waiting to hear back from a few prestigious schools, such as Johnson & Wales and the Culinary Institute of America, where she would like to continue her studies after graduation. Long-term goals include obtaining employment as a personal chef and working internationally, perhaps in Italy or South America. And, this summer, she may return to Harbes Family Farm in Mattituck where she worked in the on-site kitchen preparing food. Her skills and experience impressed her employer. “They were actually pretty happy with me,” she said. “They want me to come back this year.” Yakelin’s hard work and Academy training has already begun to pay off, it seems.