Manhattan cooking school provides sanctuary for struggling cooks, kids

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- The love of food is bringing struggling cooks and kids together at a cooking school in Manhattan.

"It was difficult for me to be around people," said cooking student Jonathan Colon, who suffers from anxiety and paranoia. "Couldn't go to the store, couldn't do anything by myself."

But 18 months ago, Colon found the courage to face his fears and enrolled in Fedcap's morning cooking class.

Fedcap Cooking School's Chef Lex Aquino said he has students who come in dealing with disorders like anxiety and severe depression.

Colon said his love for cooking makes him feel much better being there. "I love cooking," Colon said. "I can lose myself in it. I feel so much better being here."

After spending the morning cooking, Colon spends his afternoons working as a dishwasher at the school in Midtown.

"We get to give them employment that is dynamic, that they can skin their teeth into," Aquino said. "They can discover themselves newly, that they can be developed and be self-expressed."

The afternoon classes are for kids who pay thousands of dollars to learn to cook. Fifty students from around the world have their love for food in common.

Naveen Dhaliwal got a first-hand look at the class.
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Naveen Dhaliwal reports on the Midtown cooking school that teaches more than just culinary skills.

"Everyone is included," said 12-year-old Finn McBee, an Ohio native, and CampusNYC student. "And everyone feels welcome."

As for Colon, when he washes dishes, he is also learning. "I love watching them cook," he said. "They make their mistakes, but keep going. And for me, it's the same idea."

Two worlds coming together with no one taking notice other than what's on the table.

"There's such a passion, love for food," CampusNYC Chef Oonagh Dibetta said. "No one sees anyone else from anywhere else."

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