Lyanna Cintron remembers standing in her mother and step-father’s kitchen at age 9 and wanting to get her hands dirty to make dishes like shrimp lasagna, lemon butter fish and sushi rolls.
Today, the 17-year-old Queens Village resident is a student at Food and Finance High School and interning at Italian-American restaurant Carbone, which was founded by Mario Carbone, a Queens native who was named one of Food & Wine’s “Best New Chefs in America” in 2012. Reservations at the Greenwich Village eatery are made one month in advance and classic dishes such as minestrone, spaghetti pomodoro and veal marsala are served.
Cintron, who received this internship with the help of the Careers through Culinary Arts Program (C-CAP), has spent the last two months learning about the world of pastry. Her responsibilities include making frosting and ice cream from scratch, scaling recipes for cakes, taking inventory and more.
“Working at Carbone is actually an amazing experience,” Cintron said. “I’ve been learning a lot and meeting a whole bunch of new chefs that have been showing me the ways of the culinary world.”
Cintron said she’s an “all-around gal” when it comes to cooking but that her favorite meal to prepare is shrimp Francese, a flour-and-egg-battered shrimp dish that requires her to reverse batter the seafood. When she’s not cooking, the aspiring chef loves to watch anything Gordon Ramsey. The British chef and restaurateur is known for his abrasive teaching style on his television shows “Hell’s Kitchen,” “MasterChef,” “MasterChef Junior” and “Kitchen Nightmares.”
“I just love the way he is in the kitchen,” Cintron. “Even though some people say that he’s mean or whatever, I kinda like it because I feel like he’s only doing that to people to push them because he knows that they can do better.”
Cintron hopes to go to culinary school and slowly work her way to becoming a head chef or owning her own restaurant. She credits her teachers Chef Adrienne Terzouli and Chef Michael Lynch for pushing her to do better and the C-CAP program for placing her at Carbone and teaching her about networking. C-CAP is a nonprofit that has linked high school at-risk culinary students to the food service and hospitality industry for more than 25 years.
“Being a part of C-CAP was like God giving me the token to my dreams,” Cintron said.
After working at Carbone, Cintron said she has a new favorite restaurant. She has already visited the eatery twice with her family and plans to go again. Though her internship ends this week, she is already in talks with management to try to secure a position at the restaurant.
“[My teachers] always inspire me to do better and they always tell me that I’m going be the one of the ones that makes it in the culinary world so they just give me that nudge to keep going.”