Eli Martinez has hopes of one day being a private chef.

The North Dakota State College of Science student, from Tioga, took a step in the right direction in 2017. Over the summer, the culinary student took an internship at Farmers and Distillers, one of North Dakota Farmers Union’s restaurants in Washington, D.C.

“I enjoyed it — it was a pretty good experience,” Martinez said.

Martinez, who moved to North Dakota five years ago from the Virgin Islands, started school last year. An instructor asked him if he wanted to intern with one of NDFU’s restaurants in Washington, D.C., and he jumped at the opportunity. NDFU also gave him $2,000 to help cover expenses.

“It was amazing — just the things they taught me, business-wise,” Martinez said.

On a daily basis, Martinez was tasked with preparing food stations for the cooks. He would also help out where needed, such as during lunch, which usually features a large crowd.

“From noon to 2 (p.m.), it was non-stop all the time,” he said. “It was pretty busy.”

Martinez has another year of school remaining, and then he has plans to start his career in a restaurant in Fargo somewhere or possibly go big and head back to D.C. However, he’s also entertaining a third year in his collegiate program, which leans heavily toward restaurant management.

“I want to work my way up and maybe one day be a private chef and cook for people in their homes,” Martinez said.

— Chris Aarhus, NDFU