Food Bank of Delaware graduates 11 students from The Culinary School

June 9, 2016

Eleven students from The Culinary School at the Food Bank of Delaware successfully completed the 14-week culinary arts training program and will start on a new career path.

The graduates are: Oliver Bowers, James Bungy, Leathia Cooper, Malyka Demby, Ponuriareen Enoch, David Faison, Michael Risbrook, Gennie Tolliver, Joshua Trainer, Tanquia Watson and Otis West.

Stone Balloon Ale House Executive Chef Robbie Jester, who recently appeared on the Food Network’s Guy’s Grocery Games, served as keynote speaker for the event.

“Let go of the past and the negative people in your life,” advised Jester. “They don’t define you.”

Graduates have spent the past 14 weeks developing their skills in the culinary arts with Chef Instructors Tom Craft and Donnie Stephens. Three-hundred hours of culinary training focused on ServSafe® food sanitation skills, advanced knife skills, moist and dry heat cooking techniques, introduction to baking, international cooking and more.

In addition to learning hands-on skills in the Food Bank’s industrial-sized kitchen, the students also attended food shows, enjoyed guest chef demonstrations on pasta and pizza making, went on local field trips, catered special events and more.

Craft and Stephens were pleased with the graduates’ progress over the past 14 weeks.

“Ships come to harbors to get supplies, knowledge and preparation. The Culinary School is the harbor,” Craft told the graduates. “You are ready to set sail. You were meant to take what you learned here in the harbor and be that ship in the ocean.”

Students completed two-week internships at Deerfield, Drip Café, Two Stones Pub in Newark and North Wilmington, Ingleside Assisted Living, Del Pez, Newark Natural Foods, Market Street Bread and Bagel, Stone Balloon Ale House, Argilla Brewing Company and Pizza, Hartefeld National Golf Club, 2 Fat Guys and Chelsea Tavern.

“I have come through a whole lot,” said graduate Gennie Tolliver. “This is the first thing I have done and completed for me. It is now time to give to myself.”

Graduate Josh Trainer told the audience of 100-plus, “This program has changed my life. I am going to take this and shoot for the stars.”

Otis West received the class’ highest GPA award and plans to continue his culinary studies at Delaware Technical and Community College.

Food Bank of Delaware President and CEO Patricia Beebe praised the students for their commitment to the training program.

“Workforce development is important to us at the Food Bank of Delaware,” said Beebe. “We know that in order to achieve our vision of a community free of hunger, Delawareans need training opportunities that will lead to sustainable employment and income. We are so proud of today’s graduates. Our program is a lot of hard work. Not everyone makes it. These students are the successful ones. They are all now ready to start their careers in Delaware’s food service industry.”

Following today’s ceremony, guests were served a lunch prepared by the new graduates. The menu included beef brisket, lemon pepper salmon, vegetable lasagna 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 Department of Corrections, Delaware Department of Labor, Delaware Division of Vocational Rehabilitation and other community-based organizations.

Students interested in applying for future classes, may sign up online at The next class begins September 13.

Thanks to Ariel Ramirez, Ariel View Photography, for catching the day so perfectly! Click here to see more of Ariel’s work!


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