PA ProStart Blog
Name: Mickala Dorman
Occupation: Chef/Owner, Twisted Whisk Catering
Mickala Dorman is the chef/owner of Twisted Whisk Catering, based in Central PA. A CPI Culinary Arts alumna, Mickala went on to earn her associate's degree in culinary arts at The Culinary Institute of America before returning to Central Pennsylvania, where she opened her own catering business. We asked Chef Mickala some questions to learn more about life as a caterer.
1. What does a typical day at work look like for you?
My typical day at work consists of email/calls out to clients, followed by hours in the kitchen creating, plating, and serving delicious food to our clients. We offer drop-off and also full service catering. The days can be long but you never get tired of the faces from your clients when they taste your food!
2. Why did you choose this career/industry?
I chose this industry because of the love that I had for food growing up. We always came together as a family for meals, so that's something I would like to try to pass on to the people around me. The love for food always brings together the loved ones around you. I think that is very important these days. After all, if it wouldn't be for the ones around my dinner table, I wouldn't be the chef I am today.
3. What was your first job in the industry?
My first job in the industry was as a dietary aide at Centre Crest in Bellefonte. My job there taught me a lot about how to nurture the ones that need it and how to care for people who can't care for themselves. I loved every minute of this job. It taught me about dietary restrictions, which later helped me in my culinary career.
4. Briefly describe your career path and how you got to where you are today.
My goal starting off after high school and being at CPI (Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science & Technology) was that I wanted to go to college and get a degree in culinary arts. I wasn't sure where to go, so I asked Chef Tim Beckenbaugh for his advice. He suggested applying to the Culinary Institute of America, the same school he attended at the start of his career. I applied and was accepted two weeks later. I began culinary school two weeks after I graduated from high school. That was the best day of my life. Little did I know the knowledge I was about to absorb. When you walk onto the CIA's campus you can not only smell the love of food, but you can feel it. The way the students take pride in their chef whites, they way they walk tall, and show how proud they are of their school. It was a breath of fresh air that I needed going straight into college.
My first day was June 20th, 2012. Two years later I graduated with an associates degree in culinary arts—that is where it all started. I returned home for a couple months to realize that I wanted to be back in the Hudson Valley. I returned to the Hudson Valley after I accepted a line cook job at New World Home Cooking. I was there for about 6 months when I got the opportunity to be promoted to kitchen manager. I took the position. I loved being able to have more of an impact on the kitchen! From there I was the head chef/ owners right hand man (woman). He took me under his wing taught me how to manage a kitchen and all the workers that came with it. I was the kitchen manager for about two years.
From there, I knew that I needed to return home to my family. I returned home in December 2014, when I accepted a job with College Chefs as a private chef for a Penn State Fraternity. It was a great learning experience for me! This was my real test on running my own kitchen—budgeting, cleaning, ordering was all on me. This helped me grow a lot as a chef and a manager. While still at the frat, I decided that it was time to take a leap of faith and start the catering business that I had always wanted to! On October 1st, 2018, my dream became a reality. I opened and started to run my own business, Twisted Whisk Catering. I'm still working on growing my business, but it has been a great first 6 months!
5. What is your favorite part of your job?
I have the best job. Working for yourself is so rewarding in so many ways. When I see the smile on my clients faces when they take their first bites— that's all I need. That joy and pleasure just from a simple taste of your food is what I live for and strive for in my business! If you take care of your customers, they will in return take care of you and your business.
6. What is the most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job would be the emailing, calling and keeping contact with my clients. Whenever I'm in the kitchen I usually will not answer my phone, which can lead to longer wait times on emails to clients. I am trying to get better at this!
7. What advice would you give to students interested in pursuing a career in culinary?
Advice that I would give a student that wants to go into a culinary career would be: get ready to work your butt off. You don't start at the top, even if you're Gordon Ramsay. You will most likely always start at the bottom and work your way up. If you have a good work ethic and love what you do, the hours will not bother you. But be ready to put your head down at school, absorb all you can and then hit the ground running once you graduate! Your chef career is what you make it. Aim high and never stop reaching towards your goals!
8. What achievement are you most proud of?
The achievement that I'm most proud of is starting my business at the age of 24. My goal was to have my own successful catering business by the time I was 30. So at 24 when I decided to take the leap, I was so excited when the community started to back me. The sky is the limit now!
9. What do you like to do when you're not working?
When I'm not in the kitchen I enjoy quite a few things. I love to travel. I love to immerse myself into different cultures and learn about their way of living and of course cooking! My boyfriend and I travel quite frequently. We are both certified scuba divers so when we travel, we tend to spend some time blowing bubbles beneath the surface. Diving is something I'm really passionate about. It has a way of just taking all your stress away and you feel like you can forget the world.
10. What is your favorite thing to make or eat?
My favorite thing to eat would have to be anything Asian! My favorite thing to make would be a lot of Thai dishes. One in particular is my Pad Thai.
PA ProStart Blog
The PA ProStart Blog is for Pennsylvania students and teachers of the ProStart Program- a nationwide, two-level high school career and technical education program that teaches culinary arts and restaurant fundamentals.