WEYMOUTH – Elliot Johnson said it’s not every day her cooking class gets an up-close, private lesson from a celebrity chef.
Elliot, who is an aspiring pastry chef herself, said her learning from visiting chef Paul Wahlberg at her school was that success in the culinary field depends on both dedication and technique.
“I’ve learned that passion and patience are both really important things,” she said.
Wahlberg, the Hingham chef behind restaurant chain Wahlburgers and Italian restaurant Alma Nove, visited Weymouth High School Monday for two cooking demonstrations with juniors and seniors as part of the school’s culinary arts program.
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He offered a cooking demonstration of risotto with lemon and spring peas, shared insights into his career, and answered questions on everything from dishes he’s prepared to past work experiences and what he looks for in employees.
When asked what the most difficult skills he had to develop are, Wahlberg said whistling a mushroom and having patience.
“Right now, I want this rice to cook so much, but I need patience,” he said. “Good food takes time.”
Wahlberg has worked in professional kitchens since graduating high school, first at two hotels in downtown Boston, then as a chef at Bridgeman’s in Hull.
Wahlberg opened Alma Nove, a Mediterranean and Italian restaurant at Hingham Shipyard, in 2010. The restaurant is an ode to his late mother, Alma Wahlberg, and her nine – nove – children.
He founded Wahlburgers in 2011 with his actor brothers, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg. The chain rose to fame in 2014 when A&E began airing Wahlburgers, a reality series about the restaurant, which now has dozens of locations.
Wahlberg said the goal is to show students what it’s like to work in a kitchen and to share his passion and love for cooking.
“I love what I do so much and it’s amazing to be able to share that and see it click for her,” he said. “It opens up a new world for them.”
Student Allison Wilt, who wants to work as a chef, said it’s interesting to hear from Wahlberg on how he handles restaurant rush and the pride of other people who enjoy a meal he prepares.
“It’s not always about doing it a certain way, it’s about putting your spin on it and being passionate about it,” she said.
Allison asked Wahlberg for his advice for people looking to open a restaurant. He said they should save money, learn as much as they can, and find out what they really love.
“When you find what you love, you’ll find a way to get started with it,” he said.
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James Henry, one of the instructors for the culinary arts program, said Wahlberg’s visit was a first for the class. He said the students learned firsthand that it takes dedication and passion to pursue a career in hospitality.
“He reiterated that you have to make people happy so they keep coming back,” Henry said.
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