Stephanie Bere was studying business administration at Essex County College when she realized she didn’t want to work in that field. She has always loved cooking and decided to investigate it as a career option.
New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI) helped Bere pursue her passion through training in the Culinary Arts Specialist program. She had a friend who was in NCCTI’s Patient Care Technician program who recommended the accredited school. Bere called NCCTI for more information and enrolled. She was in class from March to September 2021.
Bere excelled in the Culinary Arts Specialist program and upon completion, was offered a job at New Community Extended Care Facility. She started in a part-time position in October of 2021 but quickly transitioned to a full-time role. She currently works the 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. shift, preparing dinner for the residents of Extended Care.
Bere enjoys the work and finds the schedule convenient for a culinary career since she has a 4-year-old son.
Her favorite part of the job is working with her colleagues.
“It’s like a family,” she said.
New Community Food Service Director Nelson Gibson calls Bere a great product of NCCTI and an asset to his department.
“She is always positive with her attitude, very well-liked by the staff, a very pleasant person and a skilled cook far beyond her years,” he said. “It is always a pleasure having her on staff because she is a team player and always goes above and beyond her duties.”
Bere has been surrounded by cooking since she was young. Her mother had a restaurant in Africa, where she was born and raised. Bere came to the United States in 2013 at the age of 20. Before starting classes at NCCTI, she worked as a cashier in a New York restaurant.
She had a positive experience as a student at NCCTI. While she already knew how to cook, the school expanded her repertoire of dishes since she mainly cooked African food. The Culinary Arts Specialist program introduced her to American-style cuisine, some of which she had never made before.
NCCTI Culinary Arts Instructor Samuel Gaddy said Bere was a model student and that Extended Care is lucky to have her on staff.
“Ms. Bere is an awesome cook with a vibrant personality to match. Her positive energy and her ability to absorb her training here at NCCTI made her the perfect candidate for any job in the food industry,” he said. “We lucked out and acquired a great asset to our team.”
NCCTI Director Dr. Sylvia McCray is happy that Bere has been able to use her certification to launch her culinary career within New Community.
“I was pleased to learn that Ms. Bere was able to showcase her talent, skill and knowledge. And bring it forward to Extended Care,” McCray said. “She has shown a clear connection between the work and dedication to learning, a necessary component to reach set goals.”
The educational foundation Bere received at NCCTI, along with the experience she is getting as a professional cook at Extended Care will help her achieve her ultimate goal.
“One day in the future, I want to open a restaurant,” she said.
Bere is grateful to have found New Community for her education and the start of her culinary career.
“NCC helped me a lot,” she said.
NCCTI is an accredited post-secondary career and technical institution that is currently enrolling for the following programs: Automotive Technician, Building Trades Specialist, Medical Assistant Clinical, Patient Care Technician and Culinary Arts Specialist. NCCTI also operates a comprehensive Financial Opportunity Center and Bridges to Career Opportunities Program sponsored by the local and national Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) offices. For more information, call 973-824-6484, log onto newcommunitytech.edu or visit 274 South Orange Ave., Newark.
New Community Extended Care is a skilled nursing facility located at 266 South Orange Ave., Newark. For more information, visit newarknursinghome.org or call 973-624-2020.