Culinary School grads overcame COVID challenges

October 20, 2020

Training for a different career, learning new skills, going to school in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic was a bit overwhelming to say the least, but today four determined students graduated from the Food Bank of Delaware’s Culinary School in Milford.

Members of the 28th graduating class, Shane Jarrell, Stephanie Kemp, Bradford Marx, and Wayne Reed, successfully completed the 14-week program through a combination of remote learning and on-site lab experiences. All of them successfully passed the ServSafe® certification exam, providing them with a necessary basic certification in the food-service industry.

“We got through it,” said the Food Bank’s Chef Instructor Tim Hunter. “We faced the challenges.” This class received their training through a hybrid model that included remote – Zoom – instruction, videos, and on-site, two-hour kitchen labs.

Guest speaker Fern J. Joseph Gauthier, MBA, Employment Services Supervisor, state Department of Labor, Director of Employment and Training, was guest speaker at the outdoor, socially distanced ceremony. “Graduation is not the end. It’s just the beginning of what you do in life. You are at a crossroads,” she told the graduates.

Her profession is to “support individuals and connect with employers,” she said, adding that COVID-19 has changed the employment landscape, not just negatively in that new businesses emerged. “We need to think outside the box,” Joseph Gauthier added.

She encouraged graduates to maintain a positive attitude. “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity,” she said, quoting Albert Einstein.

Joseph Gauthier shared a story about a local couple, who despite discrimination and other challenges, overcame obstacles. The husband now owns/ manages a tire business and a used car dealership; she is his wife. “It is my personal story,” she said, asking the graduates if they were ready for success.

She closed with inspiration from Oprah Winfrey: “It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from. The ability to triumph begins with you. Always.”

The next culinary class begins Nov. 23 in Milford and Newark. Due to COVID-19 protocol, the class will meet remotely and in a small, in-person group setting. Students must be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday for training. Visit to apply online.

Congratulations, graduates!

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