Same chef, different menu


Molly Agriss

Raab poses in front of his photography students work.

When he was washing dishes and folding pizza boxes at his parent’s little restaurant, Mama Lucia’s, Mr. William Raab never could have pictured his future. After decades of working all different places and doing all different types of jobs, Raab has finally found his forever home at North Penn.

Starting at his parent’s restaurant bussing tables, Raab has gone from pizza delivery guy to mechanic, to food truck worker, to foreign chef, to where he works today as an Arts teacher. Raab has been at North Penn since 2019 teaching Design & Illustration, Digital Photography, Graphic Design/Electronic Art, and Animation.

Raab learned his drive and grit from his father, the person he looked up to most. After his dad was in a tragic accident becoming paralyzed, his father’s perseverance inspired Raab, making him who he is today.

“My dad was a very big influence on me in so many ways. To start, when he was younger than I am today he was in a horrific accident at work that left him paralyzed. His doctors told him that he would never walk, drive, or really do anything normal again and that he would be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He had other plans though, he was not the type of person that would just give up. He taught himself how to walk again with the aid of a cane and how to drive again without the use of assistive devices,” Raab remarked. “First and foremost he taught me to never give up when you come face to face with adversity. He also taught me to advocate for myself; you have a voice, so use it.”

Raab continued his father’s cooking legacy by becoming a chef himself, traveling the world cooking, and learning all about different cuisines.

“Food is like a gateway to the world. It really is. You can learn so much about a person or about people through their cuisine. Immerse yourself in the places you go, and make sure to experience the music, the art, the culture, and most importantly the food when you’re there,” Raab said.

Raab began running a food truck for whole foods where he would cater all different types of events. Working on a food truck was one of the most fun and frustrating times in his life. Due to working long 16 hour shifts in the food truck Raab ended up in the hospital where he decided it was time for a change.

Raab (red shirt) poses with his food truck crew dressed like pirates. (Submitted photo)

“My final decision to become a teacher came from a hospital bed in the emergency room. I had just finished a month-long stretch of working 16 hour days every day and I was sitting at home when I started to get vertigo, pain in my chest, and my left hand was going numb. I thought I was having a heart attack. Thankfully I didn’t have a heart attack, but my body was shutting down on me. While in the ER, I had this moment where I felt like I was just looking down on myself. And I saw all these tubes hanging out of me and I saw my partner next to me and we
were holding hands and I could feel her trembling and I remember thinking to myself, I can’t do this to her anymore, let alone myself,” Raab reflected.

Raab’s decision to become a teacher was not a blind choice though. He had always loved teaching and it became one of his favorite things about being a chef.

“I first thought about becoming a teacher when I was in middle school and high school. I was really inspired by some of the teachers that I had. I enjoyed the idea of being able to talk to a group of people about a topic and show them things that were new to them. I have always enjoyed helping people, my favorite part of being a chef was training new cooks,” Raab explained.

Being a chef was not just a task he had to complete each day, it was a passion. Cooking has given him a different perspective than many have and paved a perfect path for teaching in a classroom.