To meet the workforce demands, Omni Mount Washington Resort has developed Bretton Woods Culinary Academy (BWCA) in partnership with White Mountains Community College (WMCC) and the NH Department of Labor.
A 3-year program, BWCA allows students to enroll in WMCC to work on their Associates Degree in Culinary Arts and attend classes at Omni.
“They work with chefs on property and learn about different subjects to cooking,” said Joseph Madzia IV, Executive Sous Chef at Omni. “The school sends their chefs here to teach the lecture classes and the students attend the school for their math and English classes.”
The program also consists of an apprenticeship in which students work full-time and receive compensation.
“They get to move around the resort in different positions learning from all of our wonderful chefs, supervisors, and fellow cooks,” said Madzia, who stressed the importance of the program.
“The students are our future,” he added. “We take the time to teach them so they are ready for a job. We want to see these students graduate and go onto higher positions leading their own team.”
He said their goal is to not just teach them culinary basics, but provide them with a strong foundation to continue their career with Omni.
“We hope the training they receive from us will offer them better job opportunities since they will finish with an Associate’s Degree, 3 years work experience and completion of an Apprentice Program,” he said.
For Madzia, the apprenticeship aspect of the program is particularly important, which said they customize to suit their needs at Omni.
“The students are taught all the basics and advanced skills they would get if they attend the school but the 3 years of experience helps jump start their career,” he explained. “We use this opportunity to cover all the standards the college would teach but go more in-depth with standards our specific hotel follows.”
He said program graduates are great candidates for the Omni brand, which enable them to immediately hire them into positions that directly impact the workforce shortage.
“We have been partnered with the NH Department of Labor in efforts to maximize this program to support our state,” said Madzia. “This program is an interesting way to think outside the box to find and train new chefs.”
In reflecting on the strength and relevance of BWCA, Madzia contrasted it with his own experience as a student and aspiring chef.
“I attended a culinary school where I spent two years attending class full time,” he said. “I needed to pick up a part time job so I had money, but the jobs I had were not the best. I didn’t get to use that work experience on my resume after because some of the jobs I had were simple.”
He said BWCA, however, provides both educational and hands-on training as well as networking opportunities that often help open doors.
“If the students put a little money from each paycheck aside on their own, they can pay for their classes as they go and be debt free from school at the end,” he said.
Currently, BWCA has six students with two starting their third year and graduating in May of 2020.
“We are very excited for this class’s graduation, because it will be our first one,” Madzia said. “We wish them great success in this career. The other four students will graduate in May 2021.”
BWCA is currently accepting applications for incoming freshmen. To learn more, visit https://www.brettonwoods.com/bwca.