Dario Silerio has always been able to make adjustments and make the best of any situation. In other words, throw him in the frying pan and he comes out cooked to perfection – you will get the reference in a minute.
After his sophomore year of high school, Silerio transferred from his home in Lexington, Mass. to Skyline High School. He went from “didn’t know anybody” to being one of the leaders behind a group of Skyline High School students writing a screenplay for a projected hour-long feature film.
Yes, quite a dramatic journey. Turns out he’s on a lifetime of dramatic journeys and he wouldn’t have it any other way. After graduating in 2018, Silerio has learned what he doesn’t want to do and more importantly what he wants to do – the fact it only took a few years of discovery proves he might just be on to something.
Silerio, who recently turned 21, did what many HS graduates do – he went to college. But it just didn’t stick.
“I went to college at first with the intention of majoring in psychology,” he says. “It simply wasn’t for me. The school environment, the note-taking, the long lectures, I didn’t want to sit around and be told how things were. I wanted to go and do things to see how they really were for myself.”
Silerio then received some sound advice.
“I met an older fellow during a volleyball tournament on campus and I told him about my uncertainty with the path I’m on and how I can’t see myself spending the next seven years of my life in school,” Silerio said. “He listened and told me that when I went home to make a list of five things that you would spend your day doing for someone for free.”
In the top spot, he wrote, “cook for them.”
“It was so obvious that a part of my life that I took for granted and didn’t even really realize that people get paid to do was cook and make food,” he said. “The next week, the semester ended. I told my friends I may not come back because I’m thinking about going to culinary school. I then dropped out and began looking into culinary programs.”
This passion and intensity for cooking started at a young age for Silerio. “I cooked for myself when I could when I was a kid and all through high school when I’d hang out with my friends,” he says. “I’d ask them if they wanted to cook with me and we would go to the grocery store to pick up ingredients and I’d make them a dish I like or a new recipe I found. The fact that I’ve always loved to cook made me take it for granted in a way and it wasn’t until my first semester of college was over that I figured out that cooking is what I wanted to do with my life.”
It’s been game on ever since. And the game is all about learning, experiencing and improving.
Silerio is putting all his energy and effort into a job he started in October 2019 at Katherine’s Catering in Ann Arbor. He calls it a “great opportunity to learn and challenge myself by learning on my own.”
“It’s a double-edged sword since I lack guidance but that helps me be more proactive and practice everything,” he says. “I’m a very hands-on learner and since most of my prerequisite classes are already done, there’s not much I can do in school right now anyway.”
Silerio says he’s having a “blast” at the bakery. He does all the desserts and some of the breads for Katherine’s and also manages the inventory and some of the ordering for the bakery.
“I’m learning more and more every single day and getting better,” he says. I started working for a great chef and good friend, Arie Bates. He is a great teacher and was super thorough and answered all my questions and allowed me to try everything out. He didn’t just make me do all the tedious work as some chefs would do. He went out of his way to really train and teach me and he is a big reason for why I felt confident enough to accept the job.”
Silerio started working at Monahan’s Seafood in Kerrytown after he graduated from high school in 2018. “I would go in on my off days and ask the chef to teach me how to do the prep,” he says. “I was so interested in the kitchen and wanted to learn everything they were doing. He taught me and I’d go on my off days to help him prep, until one day he taught me how to cook on the line. After that, I picked it up quite quickly and eventually ended up helping the chef when he was alone, and covering for them when they were on vacation or sick.
“I enjoyed cooking on a line. I loved the pressure and forcing myself to go as fast as I could to try and keep up with the constant influx of tickets.”
His plan for the moment is to not plan too far in advance and see where this current road takes him. “I like to just keep a constant search of opportunities to learn,” he says. “I’d say my short-term plan right now is to finish my degree at Schoolcraft and run the bakery as best as I can. My only long-term plan is to cook and learn. If I can keep doing that, I’ll be happy.”