Former police officer goes back to cooking schoolWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | email@example.com
Christine Hopkins used to think that cooking couldn’t be a career. It was something people did to pay their way through school so they could get a real job, she thought.
“I have had cooking jobs all my life … I love cooking, but it was something that was a means to an end.”
The 30-year-old avoided her true calling for years. She attended the Sandusky Police Academy, graduated and worked for the Put-in-Bay Police Department. She returned to Toledo in 2001 and began working in private security for Mercy Health Partners. She eventually earned her real estate license and began working for Danberry Realty as well.
When Hopkins enrolled at Owens Community College, she began pursuing a business degree until she finally gave into culinary arts.
“Christine has been a very exciting student to work with,” said Bill Powell, Owens program coordinator for the department of food, nutrition and hospitality. “She has a varied background. Her drive and determination is especially exceptional. She is focused and an excellent student. She is very energetic and she has a great drive.”
Powell said many people look at culinary arts as a way to pay their way through college, and only when they are looking for a new career do they consider cooking as a career.
“That is the interesting thing about this field; it is one that really chooses you. I am not sure you choose it,” he said.
Hopkins said Toledo residents love to eat, and they have so many options. She has studied an intriguing food movement that she would like to see come to Toledo. According to Hopkins, chefs go to a farm each day and pick fresh vegetables and ingredients. From an economic standpoint, that could be phenomenal for Northwest Ohio, she said, and it’s her dream to open a restaurant that utilizes that concept.
“We as a society are so fast-paced; we don’t take the time to enjoy real fresh food that is better for us in the long run … in addition to a great dining experience, you bring people back to earth and back to their roots.”
Hopkins doesn’t have a lot of time to go out to eat with going to school full time and working two jobs, but she knows good food. She enjoys places like Red Wells and Mancy’s restaurants. As part of her studies, she needs an internship and would like one with Mancy’s.
“Unfortunately, it’s grab-and-go for me because I don’t have the time I would like to spend in the kitchen, cooking for myself and what I would really like to eat. What I like about learning to be a chef is I get to do that for [others]. I get to make people happy in some way, shape or form.”
Hopkins grew up in Toledo, moving to Bedford when she was in eighth grade. She graduated from Bedford High School in 1997 and immediately went to work at Cedar Point, where she sold pizza. She later became a sauté cook at TGI Fridays and a line cook at Friendly’s in Sandusky before returning to Toledo.
“I have family here and I liked the small-town atmosphere in Sandusky, but there are so many more opportunities here in Toledo … It is in me. I am a Toledoan.”
When she told her family about her desire to be a chef, they were surprised, to say the least.
“My mom asked me why I wanted to be Betty Crocker. It was kind of a shock. It is not what they expected.”
But Hopkins has no regrets. She knows she has made the right decision every time she puts on her apron. Chasing bad guys just wasn’t as fun as she thought it would be.
“When I am in school, I am having fun with classes. You have the same instructors in some classes, and the whole program is awesome. I never had so much in school, even in the police academy.”