VHS culinary classes cook for the community


Sarah Clench

Seniors Dora Estrada and Nallely Gallegos preparing food at the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival. Photo from: Kayla Hernandez

In between the Thomas Fire and Montecito mudslides, Ventura High School culinary teacher, chef Kayla Hernandez, was working with chefs from all over the world including the founder of the World Central Kitchen, chef Jose Andres. Andres then asked Hernandez if her culinary students were interested in working with him to provide meals for first responders.

“The experience was so profound and humbling that when WCK approached me about getting my students involved, it was a no brainer and I had to make it happen!” said Hernandez.

Senior culinary students Dora Estrada, Nallely Gallegos, Kyle Francis, Troung Ly, Manny Lopez and Violet Vargas worked from Jan. 22 to Jan. 28 in the WCK with local chefs, creating meals for first responders.

Ly said his favorite part was, “working with chefs from all over and gaining new kitchen knowledge.”

Senior Kyle Francis explained one of his favorite parts was “having the ability to sample all of the delicious food that was prepared.” Photo from: Kayla Hernandez

“These students were amazing, working in such a fast-paced environment following the instructions from well known local chefs,” stated Hernandez.


According to Hernandez, students Estrada, Gallegos, Francis, Lopez, Ly and Vargas were featured on Andres’s Instagram page, @chefjoseandres, and the WCK Thomas Fire Facebook page, where they received over 2,000 likes worldwide.

Manny Lopez, Troung Ly, Kyle Francis, Chef Kayla Hernandez, Dora Estrada, and Nallely Gallegos are the students who collaborated with WCK. Photo from: Kayla Hernandez

In addition to this, Estrada, Gallegos, Francis and juniors Leti Gutierrez and Andrea Evangelista participated in the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival on Feb. 3, where they worked in the VIP tent serving food to thousands of people.

Estrada participated in the Thomas Fire Benefit Festival and worked with the WCK providing meals for first responders and commented, “I loved seeing our community coming together and working together to help rebuild what our city lost. The efforts [shown] by restaurants and businesses was amazing to see.”