“This” was the California School for Culinary Arts in Pasadena. After taking a tour of the facility, he signed up on the spot to take classes. While there, he found he had a knack for teaching when he assisted in a public cooking class. The student, who didn’t know how to even properly cut a carrot, was “extremely grateful and touched that I would take the time with her,” he said.
Allen opened his own catering business in his second year at the culinary school, but in 2005 he underwent another career change: He started a cooking camp for kids during the summer. The camp finished its third year with over 500 students having attended the last 10-week session. “The kids have no preconceived ideas as adults do, so they are very easy to teach,” Allen said of his students. “Some of these kids have no confidence or no skills, but here they discover that they can do something. They end up cooking for their parents. I love doing this.”
While developing his cooking camp, Allen took two terms off from teaching at the Culinary Arts School. While he was gone, the school recognized his innate abilities to teach young people; he now teaches there full time in between his cooking camp. At the school, he teaches at the introductory, level 1 for the first six weeks of the Culinary Arts Program and is also an instructor for Culinary Arts 2, for the second six weeks.
“I love the second six weeks because the students are not so green,” Allen said with a grin. He arrives at the school at 5 a.m. then leaves at 11 a.m. to plan the kids camp, marketing and planning for the school and any other activities he takes part in. “I have a very full and exciting day,” he said.