From factory worker to chef

Daniel Salazar

By Daniel Salazar

Terrie Van Zuiden is in her second year as a Culinary Lab assistant for Scott Community college culinary

program. For Thanksgiving Terrie was used to cooking for over 40 people, but after people kept having babies she decided to cut down on the cooking and only cook for her kids. Now she enjoys cooking traditional dishes such as turkey, ham and mashed potatoes. But cooking and teaching isn’t always what Zuiden’s life entailed. For 23 years she worked for East Moline Metal Products in purchasing until they closed the doors for good.

“It was pretty quick, it was there then it wasn’t there anymore” said Zuiden.

Thankfully for Zuiden, the East Moline firm provided training for her next career.

Anyone who was working there at the time they closed could go to college for free.  Zuiden always loved to cook, especially in her home ec classes all the way from middle school to high school.

When she started she was 54 and currently is the oldest student in the Culinary Lab.

“I knew I was going to go there and I knew I was going to be older than everyone else. But I think they look up to me because of that and I look up to the younger students also because I learn things from them,”  Zuiden said.

Now, she is glad she could finally do what she loves for a living. She has learned different techniques, how to make attractive plates and use a variety of equipment. Now she works together with a former student and chef who started a non profit to feed the homeless. The hope to possibly open a restaurant that sells philly steak and poutine, a mouthwatering dish that includes french fries and cheese curds topped with a brown gravy. Zuiden said no other place sells it in the Q-C region.