Inspiring Wildcat: Damarious Borden '22

Damarious Borden ’22 grew up with a passion for two things: sports and cooking. A North Carolina native, he sought out Johnson & Wales University to pursue a career where his passions could merge.

Damarious is earning a Culinary Arts associate degree and a Culinary Nutrition bachelor's degree. "Growing up I spent most of my life playing basketball and testing out new, healthy recipes in the kitchen. With the support of my family, I applied and was accepted to Johnson & Wales University Charlotte, a college that is known for culinary," he recalls.

His JWU academic journey concludes in the fall semester, following the completion of his internship with the Sacramento Kings. This opportunity was an educational experience made possible by Damarious’ exemplary work in the classroom and faculty connections. More important, it will prepare him as he sets out to achieve his dream of becoming a sports performance industry chef.

How did Johnson & Wales University connect you with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings?

Damarious: During my studies, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career as a sports performance industry chef, and I knew the university could help train me in this field. I shared my career goals with my professors, one of whom put me in touch with the Sacramento Kings for an interview. This, along with additional support from JWU Charlotte internship advisors, played a big part in my securing this opportunity. The professional basketball team brought me on as an intern for four months to assist the in-house culinary team with preparing team meals, largely for game days.

Borden pictured in front of his curated lunch menu prepared for the basketball team

After learning of his career goals, one of Damarious's professors helped him get an interview with the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

What is a day in your life like at your internship?

Damarious: For game days, we spend the day preparing meals for the players and staff — breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I get the opportunity to work with the team’s executive chef and a dietician to cook catered, balanced and nutritious meals for professional athletes and it’s absolutely amazing. I get to experiment with recipes and dishes, and it feels good to see the athletes and staff members enjoy the meals we are preparing.

"I get the opportunity to work with the team’s executive chef and a dietician to cook catered, balanced and nutritious meals for professional athlete."

On the culinary side of this experience, I’m becoming more skilled in butchering. We get full meats that I can cut. There’s also tons of communications experience I’m getting too, as I have the chance to meet and speak with professional athletes and staff to accommodate specific dietary requests.

Damarious Borden preparing food for professional athletes

Damarious used the culinary skills he learned at JWU to cook for professional athletes.

What will you remember most from this opportunity?

Damarious: Through this internship, I’ve had the chance to live and work on a different side of the country, travel, meet professional athletes and gain experience in the kitchen. The coolest part is being able to see the behind-the-scenes of the NBA from a dietary and nutritional lens. My hope is that this experience will lay the foundation for me to secure a full-time sports performance industry position across any league — basketball, football, soccer, etc.

How did your internship prepare you for your upcoming career?

Damarious: This is a career starter for me. I got the hands-on experience needed to prepare me to enter the workforce, in combination with what I’ve learned through my studies at JWU. When my internship wraps up, I’ll continue doing online job searching and leveraging the connections I’ve created through networking with individuals at my current internship and my JWU professors. I hope to secure a job as a sports performance chef, but I also know that the skills I’ve developed are transferable to other nutrition-focused industries. 

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