When people think of culinary programs offered at New Hampshire’s more than two-dozen Career and Technical Education (CTE) centers, they likely think of skills related to food preparation, which only tells part of the story. “CTE helped prepare me for industry in many ways,” said Sarah Howland, who graduated from Concord Regional Technical Center’s Culinary & Pastry Arts program in 2015. “It helped me develop people skills and a sense of professionalism.”
Now Banquets and Catering Kitchen Manager at Fratello’s Italian Grille in Manchester, Howland said her experience in CTE was important because it gave her an idea of the restaurant industry itself. “CTE taught me to multitask and work efficiently in a fast-paced environment that can be stressful,” she said. “The program helped me grow as an individual personally and professionally.”
For Adam Parker, who will take over Culinary & Pastry Arts in the fall from Chef Bob McIntosh who has led the program for 20 years, Howland’s CTE experience is not necessarily unique. “I’ve been on the program’s advisory committee for the past three years and seen first-hand how CTE in general can shape a student’s perspective on their future,” he said.
This perspective is built on tangible life skills. “Culinary and Pastry Arts teaches the fundamentals of cooking and baking along with social skills, team building, and individual development within an overall progressive learning environment,” said Parker. “These lifelong skills build confidence, leadership, and a tenacious hunger for knowledge built on goal-oriented daily development.”
As former Director of Operations and Corporate Chef at Fratello’s, Parker also hosted Students-to-Work events and sponsored a culinary scholarship for SkillsUSA NH competitors. “I’ve hired students, some of whom now run their own kitchens,” he added. “In a state struggling to find people to work, CTE is a solution we can tap right now in hospitality and other industries across the state…Sarah’s experience is one of thousands of success stories statewide in a variety of CTE programs.”
Educating students from nine surrounding area high schools through programs that provide specific, career education in career pathways aligned with current and future employment needs, Concord Regional Technical Center (CRTC) is one of 28 CTE centers throughout New Hampshire.
On a segment about out of the way lunch spots in New Hampshire, the Chronicle camera crew visited Windows on West Street, the culinary arts restaurant at Milford High School. Comments ranged from acquiring career experience while in high school to great food at a great price. Watch the segment here.
Students in Great Bay Community College’s hospitality management program will work side-by-side with wine professionals at Wine Expo NH, a festive wine-and-food event on May 2nd at Portsmouth Harbor Events Center in the Portwalk. This walk-around grand tasting will raise money for student scholarships.
Wine Expo NH will showcase hundreds of wines will all wines available to order at 15% off for 6 or more bottles. Seacoast chefs will be offering a New England cheese station, charcuterie station, dim sum station, pasta station, passed hors d’ouevres and more. The Zach Lange Trio will play also.
“I can’t say enough about what a high-quality and fun event this is and how much the students’ enthusiasm adds to it,” said event planner Michele Duval. “With hospitality such a large part of downtown Portsmouth’s economy, we are really lucky to have Great Bay Community College in our midst. Event sponsor Horizon Beverage is proud to support their efforts with student scholarship monies from this event.”
Dawn Comito, program coordinator of Great Bay’s Hospitality Management program, said the opportunity for students to learn from industry professionals is valuable because it offers real-world, practical experience.
The students who are primarily involved in the Wine Expo are taking a hospitality marketing and sales class. The expo is a perfect example of how a New England spirits, wine and beer distributor like Horizon builds long term business relationships, Comito said. “Food and beverage is such an important segment of the hospitality industry. By actively participating in this expo our students not only gain some hands-on experience in proper pouring and tasting techniques, but they’ll also have the opportunity to begin building their own professional network with others in the industry. They’re also learning how to apply many of the marketing and sales strategies they’ve been studying all semester by experiencing things like personal selling and branding in action,” she said.
Rachel Robillard, who will graduate from Great Bay’s Hospitality Management program next spring with an associate degree, said she and her classmates are “extremely excited” about Wine Expo NH. “My role will mainly be working alongside wine representatives in both serving wine and explaining variations in the different wines,” she said. “I’m excited to gain hands-on experience in serving wine to guests, and I am excited to meet all of the wine representatives and network with all of the other hospitality professionals.”
The New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association announces the first annual Hospitality “Month”with events April 2nd – April 20th. The goal of New Hampshire Hospitality Month is to generate interest about careers in the industry. What is a day in the life of a hospitality employee like? What opportunities are available in this industry? What paths can students take to get to their career goals? Let’s excite this next generation of restaurateurs, chefs, sales directors, and operation managers about this great industry!
Middle and high school students will be invited to tour local properties across the state. Opportunities include hotels, restaurants, and tourist attractions. During these visits, students will have the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at day-to-day operations, interact with employees to hear about their career pathways, and learn about being a cook or front office manager as well as broaden their scope of what other career opportunities the industry has to offer including: web design, social media marketing, accounting, landscaping, event management, and more!
For more information contact Amie Pariseau at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603.228.9585. Registration Information
On March 11 at the University of New Hampshire, 7 high school teams will compete at the NH State ProStart Competition with the opportunity to represent NH at the National ProStart Competition in South Carolina in April.
At the state competition, participating teams will demonstrate their respective creative abilities through the preparation of a three-course meal in 60 minutes with just two butane burners and without any access to running water or electricity.
“It’s pretty intense—it’s wonderful to watch,” said Chef Gary Sheldon, who started ProStart competitions in both Maine and New Hampshire.
Currently in charge of ensuring all participating schools adhere to ProStart guidelines he helped develop, Sheldon said successful completion of the program positions graduates for long-term success in the industry.
“In the competitions, the students must do a cost analysis on their recipes and work with others as an actual team,” he noted. “That’s what I love about ProStart—it’s what real life is all about. Students also earn ‘passports’ after completing ProStart, which gets them scholarship money to any post-secondary school in the country.”
Education Programs Coordinator at the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association (NHLRA), Amie Pariseau said ProStart can have a tremendous impact on students and on their future employment in the lodging and restaurant industries.
“While celebrating the competition and our hard-working students, we hope to showcase that culinary is a fun, lifelong potential vocation and bring awareness to the educational opportunities available,” she said.
For Robert Mcintosh, instructor in the Culinary Arts with Baking at Concord Regional Technical Center, the experiences offered within CTE programming helps build soft skills that are necessary to succeed in business and in life.
“Teamwork, communication, and professionalism all help prepare a student to be successful in the workplace and are part of teaching any trade,” he said. “What most students start to understand is how much of an integral part they play in day to day life as well. Not all my students stay in the culinary field, but all the ones that stay in touch talk about how the soft skills they learned in a CTE class helped them talk to bosses, professors and how comfortable they are working with people in their field.”
Instructor in the culinary program at Portsmouth Career Technical Center, Chef Perrin Long said this year represents his team’s fourth time at the NH State ProStart Competition. His team made it to the nationals in both 2014 (Minneapolis) and 2015 (Disney-Anaheim), although he acknowledged they ran into some issues last year.
“Our menu was too aggressive and we did not place,” he said. “This year, the students have designed their own menu and the ‘buy in’ they have in the process is tremendous.”
Echoing sentiments express by Sheldon, he said competitions like ProStart help strengthen and build students’ abilities.
“Students that compete are typically much more advanced than their counterparts because of the exposure they have had during practices, critiques and the competition,” he said.
According to Pariseau, her role is to try and build and strengthen relationships with—and between—both school districts and hotel/restaurant industry professionals.
“We are trying to build the next big thing for students in this industry,” she said. “We also strongly believe in ProStart and other education programs out there and the impact they have on students and their ability to enter the workforce.”
Expressing enthusiasm for the upcoming state competition, Sheldon said the demand in industry for individuals who have completed ProStart and CTE culinary programs has never been greater.
“I get calls all the time from people in industry looking for skilled help,” he said. “Students in ProStart are developing professional skills so they can walk into any restaurant and they are not lost. These kids are the industry’s future…I’ll take a ProStart kid over any journeyman cook who has been in the field for 15 years.”
Salem High School culinary students are preparing hundreds of meals for those in need around their community. Not only do students gain valuable experience in producing large quantities of food, they help out area food banks and homeless shelters in the process. VH1 recently aired a video highlighting the project linked here.
A Go Fund Me page has been established to raise funds for the program.