Category Archives: The Culinary School

Culinary Student Spotlight: Sean Shaver

071414_TCS at Verdi photo (2)For Sean Shaver, a Food Bank of Delaware Culinary School student, an internship at Verde –The Italian Cooking School in Milford, is a match made in heaven.

Nancy Chirdon Forster, Verde’s founder and owner, agrees.

A restaurateur and caterer, Nancy says she supports the mission of the Food Bank of Delaware.

“I believe in its value to the community, and it’s well run,” she said.

When The Culinary School opened at the Milford site in September, Nancy knew she would want to partner by providing internship opportunities.

While Verde is a cooking school, it’s not a training institution like The Culinary School; Verde offers cooking lessons, catering and private dinners, luncheons and classes.

“We participate in the Lewes Farmers’ Market, and we want to be part of Milford’s,” said Nancy, adding that as a one-woman business it was impossible to be at both markets at the same time each Saturday morning.

Enter Sean, who was busy making cookie dough for the next Saturday’s market.

“He’s developing an interest in everything. He’s caught that food bug,” said Nancy.

Because this is a small business, Sean is learning by doing. For example, on his first day Sean helped prepare a luncheon for 22 guests, a full house in the space Verde occupies on South West Front Street.

“I’m so happy to have Sean. I just tell him to yell if he’s drowning,” Nancy said, noting that his help will open up more options for her business and for other students as well.

A Milford resident, Sean is equally enthusiastic about the internship. A retail manager for 12 years, he welcomes the career change that combines his love for cooking with an opportunity to learn and grow.

Even as a youngster, Sean remembers watching public television cooking shows.

“Justin Wilson (Cajun chef on PBS) sucked me in, not just the cooking but the stories, and Miss Nancy (Verde’s owner) has stories,” he said.

Sean learned about The Culinary School from a flyer and felt “the timing was right.”

“I’m learning as I go. Chef Tim (Hunter, Chef Instructor) and Brenda (Palomo, Culinary Training Program Manager) have you prepared to jump into the fire. The whole staff, the curriculum, everything is excellent,” he said.

Chef Tim and Brenda also praised the way Sean has embraced the opportunity to move into a career in food service.

“Sean has a unique combination of culinary skill and a positive attitude that is extremely hard to find. I know he will continue to grow in the culinary field as he learns more, but you cannot teach anyone how to remain positive under pressure. You cannot teach how to have a sense of urgency, and Sean has that,” Brenda said.

Chef Tim said the internship at Verde seems like a great match.

“Sean is one of those guys who has the potential to be a good leader if he has the right guidance. It’s good to start out small. He’ll eventually get confidence to take on responsibilities,” he said.

Sean plans to stay on at Verde after he graduates on Aug. 5.

“I’m here, and I’m going to do what I can to help Miss Nancy grow her business,” he said.

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 Life Skills curriculum.

The next class in Milford begins on Aug. 18.

Learn more by visiting http://ow.ly/z94Uo

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Getting a step up at The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware

063014_TCS studentsBy Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

For some students attending The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, the training is not about getting a fresh start. It’s more like a booster shot or a step up.

Take Curtis Bailey, for example. The Dover resident brings plenty of experience in the restaurant business, but not in the kitchen. He worked mostly in the front of the house as a server and bartender.

“Yes, I knew a little about the kitchen, but I needed more training, more of the basics,” he said.

Curtis also found the format of The Culinary School very appealing; he didn’t want to spend two years studying in a community college.

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 life skills curriculum.

Antonio Kokkinos from Bishopville, Md. drives at least an hour a day to school, and he feels the time spent on the road is a worthwhile investment.

Like Curtis, Antonio already ventured into the world of food service with his job at Panera Bread in West Ocean City, Md.

“I had a friend in the last class,” he said. “I talked to him about going to school.”

He also enjoys learning the basics, such as knife skills.

“I love the kitchen,” Antonio added.

Both students say they would recommend The Culinary School to prospective students.

“If anybody’s on the fence, I tell them ‘You’ll get more out of this program, and they place you in a spot.’,” Curtis said.

The next culinary class at the Milford Branch begins on August 18; Newark’s class begins on September 22. Applications are currently being accepted for both classes. Click here to apply online or to learn more about the program.

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Alumni Spotlight: Orville Smullens

135By Kevin Crean, Communications Intern

The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware is all about second chances. In addition to learning skills needed for a career in the food industry, students also learn life skills needed to thrive in their day-to-day lives. Students who attend The Culinary School are diverse and come from all different backgrounds and places.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Orville Smullens, a member of our alumni who is incredibly grateful for a second chance and the opportunity to attend The Culinary School.

Life was not always simple for Orville. A few bad decisions landed him in prison. Upon his release, he was determined to live a better life not just for himself, but his four children.

“Being in prison, I realized that the life I was living was not the life I wanted for myself. Something had to change,” he said. “I was willing to take and do whatever I needed to turn my life around.”

Upon release from prison, Orville was homeless and without a car. He learned more about The Culinary School through the work-release program. He said that he always had a knack for cooking, so he acted on that interest and signed up. After an interview with Sonia Murrey, our Culinary Training Program Manager, he was accepted into the program.

Thanks to his experience with The Culinary School, Orville learned a “wealth of information.” Among many other things, he said the main skills that he found most useful were how to cook and handle food properly during preparation and how to skillfully use a knife.

Orville’s favorite part of food preparation is the presentation of the meal itself, and he also enjoys how different ingredients can mix and go together to make different tastes and dishes. Orville’s favorite food is seafood, so along with preparing an assortment of seafood meals, his favorite dish to make is pepper steak.

In addition to the kitchen skills acquired at The Culinary School, Orville also found the life skills curriculum to be important. He said that being in prison prior to entering the program led him to have a different way of thinking and socializing. The Culinary School taught him the right way of dealing with others.

“I met some dynamic people,” he explained “ I believed that people didn’t care, because sometimes we tend to believe that some people stereotype us because of making mistakes. They wash their hands of us. Coming to The Culinary School here at the Food Bank I didn’t know which way I was going, but sitting down and talking to the staff here at the Food Bank, it was unbelievable that people were embracing me and wanting to help. Without them I don’t think I could have made it. They were a wealth of help and assistance. It has tremendously impacted my life.”
Orville says he is working hard to become a head chef one day. “For me, it’s not about the position. It’s about making people happy, making them smile and satisfying them,” he said.

While Orville is actively searching for a new job, he is proud to have his own apartment and car.

He encourages others to “take advantage of the opportunity” to attend The Culinary School. He advises future students, “do your best.” “I didn’t believe at first that my enrollment here could take me as far as it has,” he said. “I owe this school so much and I am so grateful for everything.”

To apply or learn more information about The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school/.

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Alumni Spotlight: Matt Mulligan

Matt Mulligan 2When our Culinary School graduates ask our President and CEO how they can thank the Food Bank for the opportunity to gain new job skills, she always answers, “There is no need to thank us. You thank us by getting and keeping a job.”

We are proud to hear success stories of graduates who are doing well. Culinary School graduate Matt Mulligan attended last month’s alumni networking event and shared that he is doing well as a grill cook and supervisor at Aramark.

The 14 weeks of training in 2012 at our Culinary School in Newark helped Matt develop a passion for the culinary arts. He landed an internship at Sherm’s Catering and upon graduation worked at ShopRite before joining a local Aramark team.

Matt believes that his culinary instructor, Mark Saunders, (Mark is no longer with the Food Bank, but keeps in touch with us!) helped him out a lot. Matt is not sure where he would be today without the training from The Culinary School. He recommends The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware, because the training program helps graduates get good jobs.

Matt says The Culinary School taught him everything he needed to know to work in a large industrial-sized kitchen. Right now he is focused on running one of Aramark’s business dining accounts and becoming a food service director.

He is already looking forward to the next Culinary School alumni social, as he enjoyed meeting fellow graduates and listening to guest speaker Scott Daniels from Sodexo. He said that Scott’s advice was informative and helpful as he works to further his career.

Ready for a career in the culinary field? Visit http://www.fbd.org/the-culinary-school to learn more!

 

 

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Food Bank of Delaware celebrates 36th graduating class of The Culinary School

GraduatesFirst Lady Carla Markell helped to celebrate the accomplishments of six students who successfully completed our 14-week culinary training program at a graduation ceremony held this morning. Four distinguished alumni were honored for their contributions to the program post-graduation.

“A strong Delaware is a state where our citizens are trained and ready for the workforce,” said Markell. “Jack and I both applaud the efforts of the Food Bank of Delaware to make sure we not only meet the emergency food needs of our residents, but the need for workforce development programs like The Culinary School.”

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.

Graduates had the opportunity to cater the VIP tent for the Wilmington Grand Prix and an event for the Delaware Stars. Two graduates, Nelson Velazquez and Andrew Morley, competed in the male cook-off for the New Castle Moose Lodge.

“I would recommend The Culinary School to anyone,” said Morley. “It is a great way to learn a marketable skill and gain employment and a great first step on the way to a successful career.”

“Providing Delawareans with high-quality job training is central to our mission at the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe. “We know we cannot end hunger until we are able to ensure that Delawareans have access to jobs that provide a sustainable wage. We are proud to provide skilled employees to Delaware’s food industry.”

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.

Following today’s ceremony, guests were served a barbeque-themed lunch prepared by the graduates. The menu featured Caribbean jerk chicken, pesto shrimp kabobs, barbeque ribs, tri-colored pasta salad, black bean and roasted corn salad, strawberry shortcake sliders, mixed berry cobbler and more.

Today’s graduates:
• Jailil Bailey
• Erick Coleman
• Brandon Collins
• Andrew Morley
• Nelson Velazquez
• Rosalind Williams

Distinguished alumni:
• Maureen Brown
• Orville Smullens
• Patrick Hulton
• Troy Lopez

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

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Culinary Spotlight: Graduate Phillip Kizer and Chef Hari Cameron of a(MUSE.)

0424_phillip3By Gwen Guerke, Communications Coordinator

Phillip Kizer (on the left in the photo) has an opportunity many would covet: he’s working at
a(MUSE.), one of the Delaware resort’s most highly-acclaimed restaurants.

Phillip, 22, of Dover, is a recent graduate of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford’s second class.

On the day of our visit to the Baltimore Avenue restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Chef Hari Cameron prepared the staff meal with an Indian theme, so while we talked we savored lentil dal, rice seasoned with rice syrup and cardamom accompanied by raita.

Hari says he’s pleased to mentor Phillip.

“There’s a long-standing tradition of mentorship,” he said, adding that early in his career he was mentored by chefs at Ram’s Head and Kevin Reading, formerly of Nage’ and now at Abbott’s Grill in Milford.

“I was a blank canvas,” said Hari.

“You can teach knowledge but you can’t teach a sense of urgency. It’s a race against the clock, the ability to do both, push yourself forward and do it faster,” he said.

“It’s about coming into work with your head and mind in the right place.”

Phillip takes notes at work; he is expected to bring his notebook and pen, and this chef expects him to follow directions.

“It’s a team effort. Each person is doing their job, and the person who is the newest gets support. I’m never going to yell at Phillip,” said Hari.

“It’s also about discipline. For example, Phillip had to spend an hour shelling fava beans,” he added.

While the tedious task of shelling those beans might not be the most glamorous work, it’s all part of the learning curve for Phillip.

He’s also learning other aspects of the culinary world, making stock, turning vegetables, how to plate. He’s tried new and different foods.

“I don’t quit and I try to work hard. Even if it’s hard, I keep going,” Phillip said.

He also has a new goal: working in Europe.

“Everyone in the kitchen talks about their experience in Europe, that it made them that much better. I want to go to culinary school and study abroad,” he said.

And who knows where his dream will take him?

 

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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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