But there was always a part of Abdelaziz that wanted to become a police officer.
"Ever since I was in high school, I was always interested in it," Abdelaziz said. "I worked once for a high-profile security firm in New York and I think that opened the door for me."
Plus, Abdelaziz had reached the crossroads of his life.
"I'm 34 years old and the father of four children," Abdelaziz said. "I had to start thinking about a future, something with a pension. The catering business doesn't offer pensions."
While Abdelaziz was busy cooking gourmet cuisine, Jason Vion was busy serving his country. The 24-year-old Vion, like Abdelaziz, a native of the township and graduate of the high school, had spent nearly five years serving in the U.S. Air Force.
When the terrorist attacks occurred at the World Trade Center, Vion, a senior airman, was called to duty to fight in Operation Enduring Freedom overseas. His detail remains highly confidential as he is still an active member of the Air Force Reserve.
"I was very glad and proud to serve my country," Vion said. "I always felt like it was something I had to do."
Rene Saldarriga was also busy serving his country, as a member of the National Guard. The 20-year-old Weehawken native and fellow graduate of Weehawken High School enlisted to serve in the National Guard, but, like Abdelaziz and Vion, he always had one goal in mind - to eventually become a Weehawken police officer.
All three men always had the aspiration to become cops, and Wednesday night, their dreams came true when the trio of natives were sworn in as the newest members of the Weehawken police department.
The three men received their badges during a ceremony held at the regularly scheduled township council meeting. Two current members of the department, Steven Bemke and Michael Jodice, were promoted to the rank of sergeant at the meeting as well.
According to township public safety director Jeff Welz, the three new police officers will receive a salary of $22,000 annually while attending the 22-week training session at the Passaic County Police Academy in Wayne. Upon completing the state-mandated training, the officers will be placed on foot patrol and their salaries will be increased to $25,000.
All three are currently receiving in-house training, also required by the state, with Weehawken Police Lt. Jeffrey Fulcher, to learn the regular operations of the department before heading off to the Passaic County Academy on Sept. 16.
"These three recruits bring our department up to the full compliment of 56 officers," Welz said. "We had three openings in the department and we wanted to fill those openings as quick as possible."
Incredibly, all three new officers didn't have to wait long to receive their badges. Each took the standardized police civil service test for the first time in April and received word just four months later that they were being hired.
"That really surprised me," Saldarriga said. "It was really amazing how everything happened so fast."
"I was really happy when I received word," Abdelaziz said. "I never expected it to come this quickly."
Vion said that every move he made during his life was always with the thought of eventually becoming a police officer. His older brother, Edward, is a member of the Weehawken Police Department.
"I entered the Air Force as a stepping stone to become a police officer and went to college [the University of Southern Colorado] with that in mind," Vion said. "It's basically where I wanted to end up, as a Weehawken cop. I think my experience in the military will help me become a better police officer."
Vion was just discharged from active Air Force duty in June, so the timing has been perfect. He was also inspired by the fact that his brother is also a police officer.
"It definitely motivated me," Vion said. "I figured, if he could do it, then so could I. My biggest challenge is now keeping people safe and helping people out."
While some recruits find the grueling regimen of 22 weeks at a police academy too much to handle and leave the department before ever seeing regular patrol, all three men believe they are ready for the challenge.
"I think having a military background helps," Vion said. "I think I can handle getting yelled at in the face. It's not going to be a cakewalk, but I think I know what to expect."
"Doing the drills with the National Guard, knowing the military codes and chains of command, will help out a lot when I get to the academy," Saldarriga said. "I think once you get there, it's a matter of how much you really want it."
Abdelaziz can also relate, although he didn't have the military background.
"I think I'd still rather have 100 angry customers yelling at me for their orders than one drill sergeant," Abdelaziz said. "I still need some physical conditioning, so it's going to be a challenge for me. But I'm up for it. I think being a little older gives me a better appreciation. I see things differently. It's a very serious matter."
Vion said that "one of the best days of my life" turned even better when he received his police badge number that read No. 100.
"It was like my prize for being the 100th customer," Vion said. "I was very proud to receive the number."
Welz was pleased with the hiring of the three new officers.
"I think they look like great recruits and great additions to our department," Welz said. "You have a successful businessman, someone with military experience and someone from the National Guard. Being a Hispanic [Saldarriga] is also very positive. They're all Weehawken natives, so they have pride in their hometown. I think this will go a long way to provide the highest level of safety in the community and continue our trend of lowering the crime rate."