ATLANTIC CITY — “Do I have this on straight?” Salvatore Storione asked as he adjusted his chef’s toque for a picture with culinary instructor Steven Cozzi.
The 22-year-old Ventnor resident was one of eight students who completed the fall 2017 session of Atlantic Cape Community College’s Culinary Training Certificate program Thursday.
The 17-week course includes every aspect of working in a professional kitchen. Students prepared several courses daily and learned the basics of service, cooking, pantry preparation and dessert.
“We’re very proud,” said Storione’s grandmother, Jeannie Petullo.
“This crew is ready to go out into the field — they are highly employable,” said Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts.
McClay said there’s a tremendous need for culinary and hospitality specialists in Atlantic City, especially with the summer 2018 opening of the Hard Rock Casino and Ocean Resort Casino. The semester-long training course provides those looking to work in the culinary industry with certification of basic skills and knowledge. Atlantic Cape’s Culinary Program at the Mays Landing campus graduates about 100 students per year, McClay said.
Valedictorian Kathleen Lescas said she was proud to have completed the program and looks forward to career opportunities that may come up: “At my age, I learned not to make plans, but to do things and see where it takes me.”
Lescas, 58, of Northfield, worked as a cocktail waitress at the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort before it closed in 2016. She said she always wanted to attend culinary school and looked at her situation as a “silver lining.”
Atlantic Cape plans to host an open house at the Atlantic City campus for the next training course session, beginning in February.