Today we celebrated the accomplishments of eleven students at a graduation ceremony held at our Newark facility!
Robert Egger, Founder of the DC Central Kitchen and author of Begging for Change, addressed the students and praised them for changing lives. “You all have already changed lives by making the choice to come here,” he said. “You don’t have to choose between making money and doing good, you can do both.”
Under the instruction of Chef Instructor Mark Saunders, students have spent the past 14 weeks developing their passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to sautéing and food safety skills, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the culinary arts. A significant portion of their training included on-the-job training at local food service businesses. Each week students spent one day in the field allowing them to spend time with local chefs developing their skills in food preparation, speed and customer service.
“Fourteen weeks ago these students didn’t understand what they wanted to do. Now they love what they do. Cooking is a passion, and each and every one of these graduates understands that in order to be a good chef you must have passion,” Mark said.
The students also spent time preparing for several large catering jobs for our new catering business, Culinary Catering: Catering for a Cause. Events included Plein Air Coastal Delaware, the Wilmington Grand Prix and more. Students concluded their training with a two-week internship. Nine out of 11 students have already landed jobs with benefits!
“The Culinary School reminded me to keep an open mind when it comes to cooking,” said graduate, Dustin Collins. “The culinary training I received prepared me for my internships, and as a result of the hard work, I was offered a full-time position with ShopRite. The life skills training helped build my self-esteem, taught me to never give up and helped me to regain confidence in myself.”
Several students were honored with awards. They include:
Highest GPA: Judith Morrison
Best Attitude: Aaron Lugg
Bank of America Most Improved: Dustin Collions
Most Dedicated: Matthew Mulligan
JPMorgan Chase Leadership Award: Lamar Chuch (Lamar has been offered employment at the Food Bank as our new Catering Chef!)
Perfect Attendance: Dustin Collins, Judith Morrison, Matthew Mulligan, Kashana Bratten, Lamar Church, Laura Taylor
ServSafe Certification: Kashana Bratten, Laura Church, Dustin Collins, Judith Morrison, Matthew Mulligan
Following the graduation ceremony, students showed off their newly-developed skills and prepared lunch for all. Guests enjoyed fried seafood cake balls with spicy aioli, char-crusted beef tenderloin, herb-baked tilapia, red bliss mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, carrot cake cupcakes, bread pudding, pound cake and more.
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.
Congratulations to all of today’s graduates:
Check out some pictures from today’s graduation!