New catering internship gives Syracuse teens a recipe for success

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Tamica Barnett wears many hats in the community, but she’s had the title of cook for most of her life.

“It started with cutting up the collard greens,” Barnett said, “I was always, as a child, responsible for cutting up the greens. I’m the youngest of three girls. So, I don’t have any brothers, so I spent a lot of time with my father and he is the grill master.”

Grill Master is title she now holds. Last summer Barnett, started her own business, ‘Who Want Smoke,’ a mobile catering business specializing in barbecue.

“I have a smoker that’s welded to a trailer, so I can pretty much pull up anywhere in the city and provide the residents of our great community with the best barbecue in town,” Barnett explained.

She also wanted to provide youth in the community a chance to learn the business. This summer she launched an internship program. She mentored 16 interns between the ages of 14 and 18.

“They’re up next. I just want to make sure they’re prepared.”

Tamica Barnett, Who Want Smoke BBQ and Catering Owner and Grill Master

“It’s good for kids to learn how to cook,” said intern Jaden Moore.

Before they even began cooking, interns learned how to handle food safely and are now ServSafe certified. On their last day, they prepared meatballs. Arissa Mack shared her favorite dish.

“I could make chicken alfredo, but I like the way she makes it because I used to make it out the can,” Mack added, “She taught me how to make it from scratch.”

The internship ended this week. Each participant was given a basket with some kitchen essentials including a measuring cup, apron, cutting board and a certificate.

Barnett, who is also a Lieutenant in the Syracuse Fire Department, made sure they also had CPR and AED training.

“So that they know what to do in the event of an emergency,” Barnett added.

“She’s giving the life skills that we’re going to need in the future,” Mack said.

It’s certainly a recipe for success. The internship was funded through a fellows program through the City of Syracuse and the Allyn Foundation.

Barnett hopes work with more interns in the future. If you’re a restaurant or caterer who would like to help out, Tamica Barnett would like to connect with you. You can contact her through her website or by email:

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