WCCC Culinary Arts Program Cooking Up Grads

Among the students in the WCCC Culinary Arts Program are, left to right, Michael Miele, Michelle Swinger, Emily Tobin, Rachel Danitz, Nicole Sturtz, Lexy Meyerhofer, and Kaylyn Daly.

Fhatuma Camara wants to eventually open up a restaurant that specializes in crepes. Nicole Sturtz has aspirations of being recognized as an elite baker, at some point opening up her own bakery. Kaylyn Daly is already in the hospitality field, but is looking to expand her career. Others in the Warren County Community College Culinary Arts program want to become the next great chef while others want to manage a restaurant. A few of their goals are similar, others quite different, but for those students in the College’s burgeoning Culinary Arts program it’s all about meeting those goals, whatever they may be.

“It’s a real mix of people, a real mix of goals,” said Pat Lilly, who coordinates the Culinary Arts degree program for WCCC, and runs the culinary program at Warren County Tech. College students take their basic classes during the day on the WCCC campus on Route 57, then attend degree advance classes at Tech in the evening, taking advantage of the Tech’s restaurant facilities.

Warren County Community College and Warren Tech are in their second year of a partnership in which college students looking to obtain an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Food and Beverage Management can do so.

“It’s been a great partnership,” said Peter Schmidt, Chair of the WCCC Board of Trustees. In December, the students prepared a special dinner for members of the Board. Afterwards, Schmidt commented, “A wonderful dinner. It’s great to ‘taste’ the results of the students’ hard work.”

Robert Glowacky, Superintendent of the Tech, agrees that the partnership “has been a valuable endeavor for WCCC and us.”

Students who enroll in WCCC’s Program in Food and Beverage Management are particularly suited to take advantage of exciting growth trends in the industry, as graduates will be well-prepared for a variety of careers in food service and hospitality.

“It’s all about preparing them for the next step,” said Lilly, who served in the Air Force for over 20 years, specializing in hospitality, before retiring a few years ago.

Some WCCC students started with the Tech program, others not. Students enrolled range in age from 18 to 52.

The WCCC program will “give our students a fundamental understanding and baseline in which to build upon when they enter the workforce,” said Lilly. “They may not be an executive chef right away, but they’ll certainly be competitive at the outset and be able to run with it.”

Some of the current students already work in the food service industry, at a country club, a café, and local restaurants.

Daly, a graduate of Warren County Tech, works as a line cook full-time at Hawk Pointe Country Club in Washington.

“I love working in the field and I love learning,” said Daly, who lives in Washington. “I realize that to get ahead in this field I do need that piece of paper.”

Daly noted that she enjoys the mix of personalities and backgrounds in her class. “There’s a great exchange of ideas. Everybody brings something different to the table.”

Daly is also glad that the program is flexible in that you don’t have to take courses straight through. This is particularly important to her due to her full-time job at Hawk Pointe. Thus, Daly, who is part-time at the college, can spread out her course load over a longer length of time.

In any case, come this spring, seven students will be the first to officially graduate from the program.

Camara, of Phillipsburg, in her first year with the program, is a Tech graduate. The WCCC program allows her to expand upon her experience.

“I enjoy cooking but I really want to run or manage a business,” she said. “I’d really like to open up a crepe shop someday”

Sturtz, who lives in Hackettstown, loves to bake.

“I’ve always had a passion for baking,” Sturtz said. “I’ve always been a baker growing up. Loved baking for the holidays with my mother. But I never thought I would make it a career.”

That changed shortly after she started her college career at WCCC. Originally she was a Social Science major. One day, though, she discovered that the college had a Culinary Arts degree offering. She did an about-face.

“I went to a big change in direction,” she exclaimed.

Indeed, don’t be surprised if Sturtz opens up a bakery around the block from you one of these days.

Anyone interested in registering for the new AAS Program in Food and Beverage Management, call 908-835-9222 or visit www.warren.edu.

Warren County Community College offers a wide range of certificate and degree programs designed to help students enter the workforce or transfer to a four-year college or university. Providing students in Warren County and the surrounding areas with a convenient and cost-effective way to further their education and career goals, WCCC is truly committed to “Learning Without Limits.”

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