Time and hard work in the kitchen pays off with the smiles and satisfied sighs of hungry eaters. A chef makes others happy and that’s why 13-year-old Desiree wants to learn to cook.

“I like cooking because I feel the more I help out other people, the more it helps myself,” she says after whipping up chicken tacos and Spanish rice with the guidance of Joseph Kalfus, culinary program director at the East Valley Institute of Technology in Mesa. Kalfus schooled Desiree on slicing, dicing and spicing in the massive teaching kitchen on campus. And the menu suited her tastes perfectly.

“I love Mexican food,” she says.

Desiree is in eighth grade and an honor roll student.

“My favorite subject is math,” she says, adding, “I like math because the rules don’t change.”

Desiree has varied interests when not in the classroom.

“When I come home from school and I’m done with homework, I like to do one of three things: go online or read or go outside and play basketball or volleyball,” she says, adding that she hopes to play volleyball when she goes to high school this fall.

“I don’t really like being a couch potato,” she says, explaining she doesn’t like to binge-watch television programs.

Desiree says she hopes to find a forever family that includes a mother and father. What is she looking for in a parent?

“Someone who is open minded and who I can communicate with,” she says. “Someone who is my advocate.”

But, Desiree says, being part of a family is about helping others.

“I’ve had a hard past, I can say that, but I want them to know I can be there for someone.”

Watch the stories of children in foster care waiting on forever families during the Wednesday’s Child segment each week between 5-6 a.m. on Today in AZ. You can also view previously aired stories at www.aask-az.org.

For more information on children eligible for adoption, call Aid to Adoption of Special Kids (AASK) at 602-930-4900, or visit www.aask-az.org.