ATLANTIC CITY — More than 50 culinary students from local schools donned their chef’s whites Saturday to pitch in at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa’s annual food and wine festival.
Savor Borgata offered culinary and hospitality students from Atlantic City High School, Atlantic County Institute of Technology, Stockton University and Atlantic Cape Community College the opportunity to gain professional experience with famous chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Michael Shulson, Michael Symon and Bobby Flay.
Friday and Saturday’s event featured 22 individual affairs ranging from small group dinners to pasta-making classes.
“It’s a way to get your foot in the door and see if it’s what you want to do,” said Jim Drew, who is responsible for recruiting staff for Borgata’s restaurants. “A lot of them have a passion — the ones that do, it’s a good opportunity.”
The past several years, he’s offered local culinary programs the opportunity to send student volunteers to work at Savor. Each time, more students take advantage, he said.
The students arrived at 4 p.m. Saturday for the 7 p.m. event. They were fed in the staff cafeteria and then suited up to start prepping the evening’s food stations.
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By 6:30, they were at their stations ready to serve guests alongside the pros.
Atlantic City senior Sara Melhem is enrolled in a Foods II course that teaches students how to put their own spin on recipes the chef-instructor brings to class.
“After I started in the class, I started to cook and be in the kitchen more,” Melhem said.
Volunteering at Savor allowed her “to expand and realize there are other opportunities out there,” Melhem said.
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Morgan Suydam is in her final year of Atlantic Cape’s two-year Academy of Culinary Arts. She volunteered at Savor 2018 and loved working with Symon, owner of Borgata’s Angeline restaurant and a co-host of the ABC talk show “The Chew.”
“It’s great to work with a professional like that,” Suydam said. “You get to see that they’re just a person.”
Suydam’s classmate Darian Howland agreed.
“I had a great time watching what the professionals were coming up with and getting to try it after,” Howland said.
Two students from last year’s event translated the opportunity into culinary jobs at Borgata, Drew said.
“It’s a win-win situation,” he said. “We’re getting help, but they’re getting experience.”