WEYMOUTH – Elliot Johnson said it isn’t every day that her culinary class gets an up-close private lesson from a celebrity chef.
An aspiring pastry chef herself, Elliot said her takeaway from chef Paul Wahlberg’s visit to her school was that success in the culinary field is as much about dedication as it is about technique.
“I learned that passion and patience are both really important things to have,” she said.
Wahlberg, the Hingham chef behind the Wahlburgers restaurant chain and Italian restaurant Alma Nove, visited Weymouth High School on Monday for two cooking demonstrations with juniors and seniors in the school’s culinary arts program.
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He offered a cooking demonstration of lemon and spring pea risotto, offered insight into his career and fielded questions about everything from dishes he’s prepared to past work experience and what he looks for in staff members.
When asked what are the hardest skills he’s had to develop, Wahlberg said fluting a mushroom and having patience.
“Right now, I want this rice to cook so bad, but I need patience,” he said. “Good food takes time.”
Wahlberg has been working in professional kitchens since he graduated from high school, first at two hotels in downtown Boston, then as the executive chef at Bridgeman’s in Hull.
Wahlberg in 2010 opened Alma Nove, a Mediterranean and Italian restaurant in the Hingham Shipyard. The restaurant is an ode to his late mother, Alma Wahlberg, and her nine – nove – children.
He started Wahlburgers in 2011 with his actor brothers Donnie and Mark Wahlberg. The chain gained notoriety 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 show students what it’s like to work in a kitchen, and to share the passion and love he has for being a chef.
“I love what I do so much, and it’s amazing to be able to share that and see it click for them,” he said. “It opens up a new world for them.”
Student Allison Wilt, who wants to work as a chef, said it was interesting hearing from Wahlberg about dealing with rushes at the restaurant and the pride of other people enjoying a meal he’s made.
“It’s not always about doing it a certain way, but putting your own spin on it and being passionate about it,” she said.
Allison asked Wahlberg about his advice for people who aspire to open a restaurant. He said to save up money, learn as much as possible and to find out what they really love.
“If you find what you love, you’ll find a way to start 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 got to hear first-hand that it takes dedication and passion to make a career in the restaurant industry.
“He reiterated that you need to make people happy so they keep coming back,” Henry said.
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This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Chef Paul Wahlberg teaches, wows Weymouth High culinary students