Ability Housing’s Culinary Workshop Sparks Joy and Creativity Among Eastside Youth

In a heartwarming display of community collaboration and support, Ability Housing partnered with Tamika’s School of Epicure during the March school break to host a three-day cooking workshop for the youth living at Oakland Terrace. This event was not just about recipes and cooking techniques; it was a celebration of creativity, life skills, and the enduring power of community engagement. Community advocate Ms. Honey Holzendorf, whose name is synonymous with support and dedication to the OutEast community, also participated in the workshop. Ms. Honey’s personal mission is to nurture the next generation and “make sure families have what they need so that they know they are not forgotten.”  

Tamika’s School of Epicure was founded in 2020 by CEO Tamika Wolfe McKenzie to educate youth about the joy and value of cooking and to cultivate their imagination. Tamika, who credits her grandmother for her love of cooking, has created a safe place where children can explore the culinary arts not just as a hobby, but as a gateway to lifelong skills and empowerment. Reflecting on her journey, Tamika said, “I never imagined doing this, but my grandmother would cook a lot of food and share it with the community. Everyone knew that on Sunday you could get a hot meal from Mrs. Wolfe, and I want to carry on her legacy.”

Over the last four years, Tamika’s School of Epicure has touched the lives of 3,860 children in Duval County. Many former students have embarked on rewarding journeys and are prioritizing a healthier lifestyle. “A couple of students have already started their own businesses or gotten jobs in the food service industry. Some of them have even received their ServSafe Certification,” Tamika proudly shared.

Looking ahead, Tamika’s vision for expansion is clear and ambitious, with plans to extend beyond Duval County into the wider Northeast Florida area. Her dream includes daily classes, after-school programs, a food distribution system, and a community garden. Her dedication to the children of Oakland Terrace remains unwavering.

“I will be back. The kids at Oakland Terrace were so creative and eager to learn. They were forming their hamburger patties into stars and heart shapes. That’s the kind of mentality I love to encourage.” -Tamika Wolfe McKenzie

This collaboration between Ability Housing and Tamika’s School of Epicure is a great example of how community partnerships can create impactful, lasting change. It was about more than just teaching cooking—it was an effort to nurture confident, imaginative, and skilled young individuals, ready to contribute positively to their communities and beyond.