On Tuesday, December 9, members of The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware celebrated their achievements during a graduation ceremony for the fourth class at the food bank’s Milford branch. Tierra Butler, Paula Exantus, Mark Heverin Jr., Eric Korona, Ross Lancaster and John Messick were the six graduates of the culinary school honored during the ceremony.
Guest speaker for the occasion was Chef Hari Cameron, chef and owner of the highly-acclaimed a(MUSE.) restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, DE. Cameron, 33, and a graduate of Sussex Central High School in Georgetown, spoke about his road to success.
“The trade found me,” he said. “The best part of hospitality is that if you’re a good chef, you can go anywhere in the country and get a job. The only roof you hit is the one you put on yourself. There’s no limit to what you can achieve. Nobody is holding you back. Come with a good attitude, good shoes so your back doesn’t hurt, a Sharpie and paper, and sharp knives. That’s what you need to succeed. The dividends are seeing the smiles on people’s faces.”
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.
Under the instruction of Food Bank of Delaware Chef Instructor Tim Hunter the students have spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills and passion for the culinary arts. From proper knife handling techniques to Serve Safe certification, the students are prepared for entry-level jobs in the food industry. Hunter was pleased with this class.
“Though this was a small class, these students were very, very dedicated. They were determined to finish what they started,” he said.
Food Bank of Delaware 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. They put in the work, but they are encouraged by our staff and members of the food service industry, like Chef Cameron. I have no doubt they will continue to work hard and build upon what they’ve learned here at The Culinary School,” she said.
In addition to learning hands-on skills in the food bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students also participated in a two-week internship, paid for by the Food Bank of Delaware. Two students had the opportunity to intern at Milford’s new Chick-fil-A restaurant. Following Tuesday’s ceremony, guests were served a lunch prepared by the new graduates. The menu included international comfort foods such as cream of broccoli soup, stuffed chicken breast, petit steak with portabella mushroom, three-cheese macaroni and cheese and Spanish rice.
The next Milford Culinary School Class at the Food Bank of Delaware will begin early next year as the school with be partnering with the Sussex Correctional Institution in Georgetown as they teach 10 new students what it takes to make a career in the kitchen. As the program continues over the next several months students will learn techniques highly desirable to employers in the food industry and develop skills that have the potential to lead to jobs in the industry.