The Culinary Arts Specialist Program is one of the hidden gems of the New Community Workforce Development Center.
Culinary students like Todd Anthony learn more than just how to cook. The program prepares students for jobs in the food service industry and offers practical experience in developing recipes, nutrition, food safety and more.
“One of the Workforce Center’s best kept secrets is its Culinary Arts Specialist Program,” said Rodney Brutton, director of NCC Workforce Development. “The program includes daily food preparation, menu selection/design, catering services, cutting/knife skills, an industry recognized credential, classroom lecture, and a host of other related subject areas. The Workforce Center look forward to doing exciting things in 2016 with its Culinary Arts Specialist Program,” he said.
Upon graduating from the Culinary Arts Specialist Program, students receive a ServSafe Food Safety certification and are prepared to launch their careers working for a commercial, institutional cafeteria or fine dining establishment.
Each day, students train under the watchful eyes of Instructor Jonathan Butler and Samuel Gaddy, his assistant. Once Butler gives out the day’s assignments, the students tackle their tasks, preparing lunch and dinner for the Extended Care Facility.
“These guys are so good,” Butler said, noting how much the students progressed during the 16-week course. In fact, Anthony, 46, of Jersey City, transitioned from student to NCC employee when he was offered a permanent position working in Dietary under Director Jackie Henry.
Like many students, Anthony did a previous stint in food service when he worked as a grill man. The curriculum and training at NCC have now provided him with a more refined skill set. “This is more in-depth,” he said.
The Culinary Arts Specialist Program received funding through Essex County College, which was awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor designed to serve the needs of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals like Anthony. The college, which serves as the lead agency, has partnered with New Community, plus other agencies in the community, to offer workforce training, counseling, mentoring and other services “to create a holistic approach to career pathways for Essex County’s reentry population.”
“It’s always been a passion of mine. I should have been here years ago,” Anthony said.