Category Archives: The Culinary School

Two Newark culinary students participate in annual men’s cook off

It’s been a great week for students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware. Tuesday we celebrated the accomplishments of six graduates from The Culinary School at the Milford Branch, and last Saturday, two lucky Culinary students from Newark, Andrew Morley and Nelson Velazquez, had the opportunity to participate in the Union Lodge #21 annual men’s cook off at the New Castle Moose Lodge. The event was sponsored by Basil Restaurant, Desserts by Dana and Ubon Thai Cuisine.

More than 150 guests enjoyed tasting samples from local professional and amateur chefs. Nelson and Andrew were thankful for the opportunity to participate.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Andrew. “Each chef was required to prepare 100 samples of their dish. That was by far the most interesting part, as I’ve never made food for 100 people. It was a great experience.”

Andrew made meatloaf sliders. He cooked six meatloaves, cut them into slider size pieces and added a spicy chipotle ketchup. His dish got rave reviews from attendees.

“My favorite part of the night was meeting other chefs and seeing how they prepare the food and how they present it,” he explained. “I am just a student; there were a lot of professional chefs there and to see how well they ran things and how well they were prepared – I was just flying by the seat of my pants!”

Nelson prepared mini beef empanadas for guests.

“I’m glad everyone liked my food,” he said. “All these people were coming back for seconds. It made me feel proud of what I was putting out there for them.”

Nelson says the networking opportunities at the event were invaluable.

“I got  a lot of compliments, so I was really happy about that,” he said. “It made me feel that my food is worthy. I was just glad for the experience and being able to put my product out there and people liking it.”

Proceeds from the evening benefitted the Union Square Foundation, the 501(c)3 charitable arm of Union Lodge #21.

Check out some photos from the evening!

IMG_20140412_211102_587 IMG_20140412_215410_801 MooseLodgeCookoff

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Food Bank of Delaware celebrates second Milford culinary class graduation

GraduatesSix members of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware celebrated their achievements today during a graduation ceremony for the second class at the Food Bank’s Milford facility.

Guest speaker for the occasion was Chef Jay Caputo, owner of The Jay Caputo Restaurant Group in the Delaware resort region. His restaurants include Espuma in Rehoboth Beach and Rose & Crown in Lewes.

“I’m proud to be associated with the food bank and the culinary program headed by Chef Tim and Brenda,” said Caputo. “To know that the students are getting a chance to better their lives through donations, grants, and the support of our community just reiterates the family connection we have here in Delaware.”

Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tim Hunter and the guidance of Brenda Palomo, Culinary School program manager, the students spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills and passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification and completing a two-week internship, the students prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.

Chef Hunter was pleased with this class.

“Though this was a small class, each one of the students has a lot of potential. Some of them may need longer than others to embrace their potential, but it’s definitely there. Hopefully they will realize it sooner rather than later, because they have a lot to offer,” he said.

Food Bank President and CEO Patricia Beebe praised the students and their families. “The successful graduates you see at today’s ceremony are supported by a community,” she said. “They put in the work, but they are encouraged by our staff and members of the food service industry, like Chef Caputo. I have no doubt they will continue to work hard and build upon what they’ve learned here at The Culinary School.”

Michael Cook, the class’s honor graduate, was pleased with this educational opportunity.

“The Food Bank of Delaware Culinary School at Milford has been a real blessing to me. I’ve learned a lot of new techniques, how to use the latest equipment, and gained knowledge of important culinary cornerstones. Just as important to me, is that I’ve gained a lot of confidence here at school. Chef Tim and Brenda Palomo work very hard at instilling a positive ethos in all the students and I really appreciated that.”

In addition to learning hands-on skills in the food bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students took field trips to food processing plants and urban food markets.

Graduate Phillip Kizer enjoyed having Chef Hari Cameron, owner of a(MUSE.) in Rehoboth Beach as his mentor. Phillip spent time with Hari at his restaurant learning as much as possible about the restaurant industry. The two look forward to continuing their mentorship.

Following today’s ceremony, guests were served a lunch prepared by the new graduates. The menu featured roast leg of lamb with fresh rosemary, meatballs green beans and red-skinned potatoes, roasted vegetables, Greek salad with feta cheese, fresh cannolis and other assorted desserts.

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other community-based organizations.

The graduates are: Paula Walston, Uriah Parker, Phillip Kizer, Michael Cook, Kelley McCallum and Ellen Roland.

Special Honors:
Culinary Exellence: Michael Cook and Phillip Kizer
Academic Excellence: Michael Cook and Phillip Kizer
Most-Improved: Ellen Roland
Leadership Award: Ellen Roland

 

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Culinary Student Spotlight: Nelson Velazquez

20140327_110622By Natosha Bratcher, Communications Intern

Nelson Velazquez has always had a passion for food and knew eventually he would end up back in the kitchen. After spending time working for Comcast as a cable installer, he felt inspired to get back into the kitchen. “I looked [The Culinary School] up online. I called them and Sonia Murrey (Culinary Program Training Manager in Newark) helped me out,” he recalls.

Velazquez was born in Puerto Rico, but has been living in Delaware for the past ten years. He remembers growing up cooking some of his favorite dishes that showcase his Hispanic heritage. “I love to prepare Spanish food. Rice and beans, paella, empanadas, tacos, you know all that stuff,” he explains.

While enrolled as a student here at The Culinary School, Velazquez has had the opportunity to work in a large commercial kitchen, something he has always wanted and needed experience in. “I’ve been cooking since I was a young boy and what I really needed was to cook in a big kitchen and get going in a big commercial kitchen,” he says. “This program has taught me everything about what goes on in the big kitchen.”

Besides learning to adjust his cooking style to fit the facilities of a larger, more professional kitchen, Velazquez has also learned about proper cooking techniques. “I learned how to poach an egg, how to carnage fruit and gained knowledge about temperatures. I have also learned proper knife skills. It’s like a little rocking motion instead of just slamming the knife down,” he says. “I have learned how to keep my fingers safe while I’m cutting.”

Velazquez mentions that proper use of time is a skill he as picked up in the kitchen as well. “We have a time limit so we have to work faster and just develop good time management as far as getting the food done on time.”

The Food Bank of Delaware is a non-profit organization that relies heavily on the work of volunteers to help with their programs. This point has not been lost on Velazquez. “Being a student at The Culinary School, it’s taught me to give back. You know the Food Bank gave me an opportunity, so now I’m giving back – helping with anything and everything” he states. “Coaching some kids’ basketball, I never did that. This experience has taught me pretty much to give back and be grateful for what you have.”

To learn more about The Culinary School, please visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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Culinary School Spotlight: Mike Cook

021314_TCS_Mike photoBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Someone with a sense of humor might say that calling someone Chef Cook is, well, redundant.

In the near future, Mike Cook, a student at our Culinary School at the Milford Branch, will probably have to deal with the punsters.

Mike, a Seaford resident and a Washington, D.C. native, will graduate with his class next month, and is looking forward to a career in the culinary world.

The Culinary School program lasts a total of 14 weeks, 12 of which are spent on site at the Food Bank learning the basics, including but not limited to meat fabrication, cooking techniques, and soups and sauces, and studying for the ServSafe exam, as well as brushing up on a Life Skills curriculum.

This man is no stranger to the business. Most recently, Mike was  a stay-at-home dad for his three sons, ranging in age from 4-13 years, but he also comes to school with extensive experience in the culinary business.

He worked the morning shift at Capt.’n  Pete’s Mediterranean Cove in Fenwick Island.

“I opened the restaurant, took in the shipments, made the sauce, portioned the fish and meats,” he said.

“I know how to frame a house, but this is what I want to do. I can’t see doing anything else,” Mike added.

At home, he also enjoys cooking for his family, including his wife, a family practice physician.

Their favorites are Italian and Greek dishes, a reflection of his family heritage, and include grilled octopus.

Mike said he’s enjoying the learning opportunities he’s experienced through The Culinary School.

“It’s more than I ever imagined, more than I had hoped for. Chef Tim’s excellent, and the camaraderie is great,” he said.

Chef Tim, Milford’s chef instructor, praised Mike as well.

“He’s been great. He had a lot of knowledge when he came. We’re just sharpening his skills,” the chef said.

During the last two weeks the students have the opportunity to take part in a paid internship at a restaurant, casino, hotel, or other business in the culinary industry. They not only are able to prove their skills and attain hands-on experience, but also they have a good chance of attaining full-time employment from the experience.

After graduation, Mike said he would like to work at Matt Haley’s Lupo di Mare Cucina Italiano in Rehoboth Beach.

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Culinary School Spotlight: Erick Coleman

TCS spotlight picture 2By Natosha Bratcher, Communications Intern

Upon the recommendation of his probation officer, Erick Coleman enrolled in The Culinary School here at the Food Bank of Delaware after serving time in prison. “I had my apprenticeship in cooking already, so they sent me here so I could finish my education,” he explained.

Even before gaining his apprenticeship, cooking was always a passion of Erick’s. He fondly remembers the first dish that he ever prepared, “It was minced steak with scrambled eggs and cheese.”

Erick has learned a lot from his experience during the time enrolled here at The Culinary School.  He was exposed for the first time in his life to the practical side of cooking, and all that goes into prepping and preparing food. “I have learned about seasonings and the different techniques that come with cooking certain foods,” he said. “I never knew about any of that.”

He remembers watching his grandmother cook while growing up. And as with most people, she often did not follow a recipe. “That’s how I learned how to cook. I never knew about the seasonings and measurements and all that.”

So The Culinary School’s chef instructor Nicole Wilson has been able to teach Erick about the technical side of cooking, including the use of different kitchen appliances, tools and the culinary language and lingo.

Erick’s favorite dish to prepare is spaghetti, which seems pretty easy and simple enough. But he likes to add a little more than just the traditional sauce and meatballs. “I have one that I like to put shrimp and chicken in,” he said.

While here at The Culinary School, Erick has learned a great deal regarding the hospitality element that comes with the restaurant business and dining, “I learned how to serve the people. Like if I were working at a five star restaurant, how to hold a bottle, how to greet them (the customers), how to hold the napkins and all that kind of stuff.”

Erick has also learned some things about himself while studying at The Culinary School. “From my background, I’ve always taken a bunch of shortcuts, so this is one of the first times that I really got into something positive and started doing some positive stuff,” he said.

Erick’s whole perspective has changed by being in a positive environment surrounded with his fellow students and his instructors, “Me just being here around some people that are trying to do something, it has kind of changed my whole outlook and perception on things.”

Upon graduation, Erick’s dream job is to work as a chef on a cruise ship, which will allow him the opportunity to travel and improve upon the skills he has learned at The Culinary School.

To learn more about The Culinary School, please visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school.

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The Culinary School at the Milford Branch accepting applications

Greg TCS

Greg Jones addresses attendees at the first-ever graduating class at the Milford Branch.

The third class of the new Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford Branch will begin on Monday, April 28. Applications are currently being accepted for interested students and are due by Monday, March 17.

The Culinary School at the Milford Branch of the Food Bank of Delaware replicates the program that has been in existence at the Newark facility since 2002.

Under the guidance of Chef Instructor Tim Hunter, the program provides valuable job training to unemployed and under-employed individuals in Kent and Sussex counties.

Greg Jones, a graduate of Milford’s inaugural class, is now employed as a full-time line cook with Aramark at Delaware State University. He praised the program.

“It changed my life because it opened my eyes to my abilities and gave me the chance to believe in myself. It was a great experience working with Ms. Brenda and Chef Tim,” he said.

The 14-week program includes 12 weeks (day-time hours) of hands-on training in basic and high-end kitchen skills, safe food handling and life skills. Students also have the opportunity to become ServSafe® certified.

The 12 weeks of training culminates with a two-week paid internship at a food service company. Upon graduation, the Food Bank of Delaware helps place students in entry-level jobs in the food industry.

“The response from the community for this new program has been astounding,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “We know that in order to end hunger in our state we must provide residents with job training that will lead to sustainable employment. The food service industry plays an important role in Delaware’s economy, and we are proud that we are able to provide skilled workers to local businesses in the industry.”

Students interested in applying to The Culinary School must have a high school diploma or GED with a ninth grade reading and math level. The cost to attend is $5,700, however, the Food Bank of Delaware works with each candidate to identify funding sources.

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Veterans Affairs and other community-based organizations.

For more information or to apply, please contact Brenda Palomo, Culinary School Program Manager, at (302) 424-3301 ext 107 or bpalomo@fbd.org.

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Chase presents $100,000 donation at Food Bank of Delaware Culinary School graduation

CheckChase made a $100,000 donation to the Food Bank of Delaware this morning at a graduation ceremony honoring the accomplishments of nine students who successfully completed our 14-week culinary training program.

The $100,000 will be used to support student scholarships to The Culinary School, stock local school food pantries with needed supplies and provide weekend food for at-risk children through the Backpack Program.

“Chase continues to work with community organizations, such as the food bank, governments, and businesses to address the issue of unemployment and underemployment in the state of Delaware,” said Daryl Graham, Vice President of Global Philanthropy and Community Relations, JPMorgan Chase. “The Culinary School is an amazing example of the type of program that changes our community for the better everyday.”

Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Nicole Wilson, students have spent the past 14 weeks developing their passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification and completing an internship, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.

“We are so thankful for Chase’s focus on not only providing nourishment for children and their families, but also supporting our commitment to providing valuable job training skills that will lead to sustainable employment,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We know one of the root causes of poverty is limited employment skills. Our Culinary School provides students with the skillset to not only thrive in the food industry, but their daily lives.”

In addition to honoring nine students who recently completed the program, The Culinary School welcomed back two past graduates who shared how the program has changed their lives.

“When we have goals set in place, achievement will come,” advised Maureen Brown, a past graduate. “I have learned to stay focused on the plan and to never give up. When life brings obstacles, overcome.”

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First, students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry. Second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other community-based organizations.

Mark Bamforth was among the nine graduates, “Socrates said, ‘The unexamined life is not worth living.’ I have come to terms with the fact that if I don’t learn from my mistakes, I am destined to repeat them,” he said.

Following today’s ceremony, guests were served a Caribbean-themed lunch prepared by the graduates. The menu featured Caribbean jerk chicken, island Beef Medallions, curry shrimp with rice and pigeon peas, Brazilian black bean stew, mango avocado salad and more.

Congratulations to the graduates!

Mark Bamforth
Khaliel Barner
Travis Bingham
Kenneth Brown
Linda Coleman
Kendall Ellis
Koren Knott
Dale McNeill
Mignon Morrow

To learn more about The Culinary School, please visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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Food Bank of Delaware celebrates first Milford culinary class graduation

TCSgroupEleven members of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware celebrated their achievements today during a graduation ceremony for the inaugural class at the Food Bank’s newly-expanded Milford facility.

Guest speaker, Dr. Christine Cannon, executive director, Arsht-Cannon Foundation, praised the program and urged students to “remember how it is that it feels today. . . . Consider other educational opportunities. The sky’s the limit. Love what you do, and remember to give back to others.”

Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tim Hunter and the guidance of Brenda Palomo, Culinary School  program manager, the students spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills and passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification and completing a two-week internship, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry.

The fact that the graduation ceremony coincided with the holiday season was not lost on Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “This is one great present. It doesn’t get any better than this,” she said.

“The first class of this culinary school represents long labor. Sometimes it is a test. This is the end of a long test, a successful test. We need to continue to raise funds to support this program.”

Charles Ballard, who was recognized with the class Leadership and Perfect Attendance awards, thanked God, his family and the food bank for encouraging. A former truck driver who recognized his love of cooking, he told the audience “it is never too late for a career change.”

In addition to learning hands-on skills in the food bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students took field trips to food processing plants and urban food markets, these students also worked in preparing and serving at Dinner in the Orchard and for a Trustees of Color reception.

This kitchen opened in September, coinciding with the start of this class.

Following today’s ceremony, guests were served a lunch prepared by the new graduates. The students featured a menu of roasted red pepper hummus, seafood gumbo, roma tomato bruschetta, sweet potato salad with cranberries and pecans, pork or chicken tamales, orange roughie and spaghetti squash, New York strip steak with roasted brussel sprouts and apples, mac and cheese bites, macaroons, truffles, chocolate cupcakes and banana cake.

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other community-based organizations.

The graduates are: Charles Ballard, Courtney Ballard, Leighanne Franks, Lilly Frazier, Michelle Ruby Hernandez, Gregory Jones, Nery Matos, Nighferl Matos, James Merrell, Maria Montoya and Shane Pennell.

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Culinary Student Spotlight: Charles Ballard

11-21 Charles BallardBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

In retrospect, Charles Ballard believes that he may have had a lifelong passion for preparing food, but he just didn’t recognize it until fairly recently.

Ballard, 51, signed up for the inaugural class at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School  in Milford which started in September. The Dover resident, now more than half-way through the 14-week training session, was most recently a truck driver looking for a career change.

A notice in the Dover Post newspaper about The Culinary School training prompted him to investigate the opportunity.

“My parents owned a restaurant in Wilmington, barbecue and seafood. I didn’t want to get into it because it felt like something I had to do, and I was rebellious,” he said.

Ballard says he loves to cook at home.

“I’m pretty multi-cultural, from stir fry to Hispanic, Jamaican and Italian. Normally anything I make, people like,” he added.

So the ad prompted him to rethink his position on cooking, and Ballard applied and was accepted into the school.

It’s been a learning experience.

“I had no idea how structured cooking is, home much time goes into the preparation, and how easy it is to contaminate food,” he said.

In addition to food preparation and classroom instruction, Ballard is enjoying his classmates.

“Chef (Chef Instructor Tim Hunter) told us the people you work with are like your family, and that’s true. We bicker, and then we make up. It kind of tugs at my heartstrings a bit to think that will be going our separate ways,” he said.

Hunter praised Ballard’s performance at The Culinary School.

“He is definitely a leader in class. He takes initiative, and that’s what you like to see. He is the first in the class to jump in and do something. And he has a passion for food. He is the person you want in the kitchen. All he wants to do is learn,” he said.

On Dec. 2, Ballard started his two-week internship at the award-winning Cool Springs Fish Bar & Restaurant in Rising Sun, near Dover.

He praised the program that will launch him on a new career path.

“This is another aspect of the Food Bank I didn’t know about,” he said.

The first class of The Culinary School at the Milford Branch will graduate on Tuesday, December 17 at 11:00 a.m. To attend the graduation, please RSVP to Brenda Palomo, Culinary School Program Manager, at (302) 424-3301 ext 107 or bpalomo@fbd.org.

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Food Bank of Delaware accepting applications for Culinary School at Milford Branch

TCS October 2013 MilfordThe second class of the new Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford Branch will begin on Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. Applications are being accepted until Dec. 19 for interested students.

The Culinary School at the Milford Branch of the Food Bank of Delaware replicates the program that has been in existence at the Newark facility since 2002. Under the guidance of Chef Instructor Tim Hunter, the program provides valuable job training to unemployed and underemployed individuals in Kent and Sussex counties.

Shane Pennell, Milford, a student in the Milford branch’s inaugural class, found a part-time job in the culinary industry early in the training period, and says he enjoys the educational experience The Culinary School provides.

“I don’t miss a day. I’m learning a lot, and I like coming here,” he said.

The 14-week program includes 12 weeks (daytime hours) of hands-on training in basic and high-end kitchen skills, safe food handling and life skills. Students also have the opportunity to become ServSafe® certified. The 12 weeks of training culminates with a two-week paid internship at a food service company. Upon graduation, the Food Bank of Delaware helps place students in entry-level jobs in the food industry.

“We are excited to provide valuable food service training to local residents,” said Food Bank of Delaware Milford Branch Director Chad Robinson. “We know that in order to end hunger in our state we must provide residents with job training that will lead to sustainable employment. The food service industry plays an important role in Delaware’s economy, and we are proud that will be able to provide skilled workers to local businesses in the industry.”

Students interested in applying to The Culinary School must have a high school diploma or GED with a ninth grade reading and math level. The cost to attend is $5,700, however, the Food Bank of Delaware works with each candidate to identify funding sources.

The mission of The Culinary School is two-fold. First students are taught skills that are highly desirable to employers in the food industry and second, these newly-developed skills have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry that provide job security and economic sustainability.

Students are referred to the program through the Criminal Justice Council, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Veterans Affairs and other community-based organizations.

For more information or to apply, please contact Brenda Palomo, Culinary Arts Program Manager, at (302) 424-3301 ext 107 or bpalomo@fbd.org.

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