Hi! I'm Kevin Flores.
I'm 25 and I love to bake.
(I also have Autism.)
When Kevin “aged out” of the school district, there were limited job opportunities so "Kevin the Baker" was established. Kevin has baked for a long time and makes all his baked goods from scratch. It makes him happy and makes others happy when they try his baked treats! Kevin works with baking mentors to meet and deliver orders, and is so busy that he has a hard time taking on new orders!
The History Behind "Kevin the Baker"
The reality is that the job market does not fully embrace neurodiverse workers, who have one of the highest unemployment rates of any working community. Approximately 86% of individuals with disabilities such as Autism are unemployed in San Diego County, while the general population of workers has single digit unemployment rates. As a result, many of these capable workers become entrepreneurs and create their own jobs to find some level of employment aligned with their interests and skills. In Kevin's situation, he showed a great interest in baking and willingness to work hard to learn the skills needed to make beautiful and delicious baked items ranging from truffles to biscotti. Realizing his love of baking, the most important mission for his team became supporting what Kevin really enjoyed doing so that he could live a joyful and fulfilling life.
Kevin started making baked goods as he transitioned from his high school to the Urban Skills Center (USC), working hard at home to develop his gift. He ultimately catered his graduation from USC by making and donating his baked goods for all to enjoy. He also began to regularly bake and donate food to a local senior center with the help of his family and mentors. Realizing that his passion for baking and his vocational skills were aligned, he created "Kevin the Baker" and became one of the first members of the State of California's pilot Self-Determination program in San Diego County to launch his plan to realize his work and life dreams. His vision was even presented before the State Council of Developmental Disabilities as part of its "Festival of Learning."
Kevin is thriving! He has his cottage license and San Diego County food handler’s license, and a delicious ever-growing menu of high demand baked goods. To meet the growing demands of "Kevin the Baker," Kevin apprentices with two professional chefs making and packaging items for sale, working out of a commercial kitchen to meet large catering orders, and developing his baking skills.
What kind of catering does he do? As an example, he recently catered desserts for 74 guests at the Senior Center at the Solana Beach Presbyterian Church. That's just one of the many examples of his hard work as a busy chef. Kevin has reliable, trained mentors to help him with his skills so that he can continue to increase his independence, expand his roots as a contributing community member, and build his business "Kevin the Baker."
Thank you for your support and prayers for Chef Kevin! Bon Appetit!