The Children of FEEST: Candice Tilson

by Lena Guevara
FEEST Youth Journalist

I picked up my cell phone and dialed listening and waiting as the irritating dial tone rang threw my ears, intently waiting for an answer, when Candice Tilson finally answered the phone with “Hey, I was just about to leave to the store to pick up something for dinner.”

About a year ago, Candice’s dinner would have consisted of the following delicacies; cereal, macaroni and toast. Now she can prepare a fully nutritious meal for her, her friends and her family. She also understands the importance of using fresh fruits and vegetables and foods from your own garden. She says without the help of FEEST this would not have been possible. She first attended FEEST at the High Point Community Center, where she met Roberto Ascolan who introduced her to the program. FEEST had been contracted by the Highpoint to bring the program to their neighborhood for the summer. With the help of FEEST, Highpoint has established a similar program called Yum.

While she attended FEEST, Robbie taught her things like all the different types of cuts and the differences between each knife and how to use them. “As I continued to go to FEEST, all these things he was teaching became useful inside and outside of the kitchen.” Roberto Ascolan is the adult lead for the FEEST kitchen and has been Candice’s main motivation throughout her experience with FEEST. “Robbie always made me feel welcome and always motivated me to try new things.”

She mentioned that during her time there they went on an outing that particularly impacted her. “We went to Orcas Island with Robbie and Mandy one time and while we were there we visited a farm with no animals. I never knew that there were farms that were just plant food with no animals. I also didn’t know there were so many plants that were also food but didn’t necessarily look like “food”, which really changed her perception of food in general.

After Candice’s continual attendance at FEEST she discovered that she wanted to expand her culinary experience and later on go onto incorporate cooking into her life as well. “The most important thing I learned was how to make anything out of what you have, especially from the garden, which is useful when you don’t have a lot. More importantly it teaches you how to rely on yourself, and it helped me teach my parents to cook.” Since going to FEEST Roberto has helped her to apply culinary schools.

Having started going to FEEST half way through her senior year; she now attends the culinary program at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Seattle. During our interview, I can tell she learned a lot of valuable lessons from FEEST and it really made an impact on her life. If she hadn’t been involved in FEEST, she would still be trying to figure out what she wanted to do after high school and would have missed out on a very valuable experience. She also would have missed out on the support she got from other youth at FEEST and, in particular, the tremendous amount of support she received from Robbie.