Farm-to-Table Culinary Apprenticeship offers training for food-service careers

Low-income area residents can qualify for 12-week program

BRATTLEBORO — This summer, Strolling of the Heifers will offer its annual Farm-to-Table Culinary Apprenticeship program, in which up to 12 people will receive training that can lead to permanent food-preparation positions at restaurants and institutional kitchens, as well as other culinary careers.

The program is free to participants who meet income and employment-status qualifications, including veterans. It includes classroom time, as well as on-the-job experience at restaurants and institutional kitchens, for which participants will be paid.

The program is supported by grants from the Sandy River Charitable Foundation, Thomas Thompson Trust, People's United Bank, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, the Brattleboro Retreat, and Vermont Student Assistance Corporation.

The aim of the program, says Orly Munzing, founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers, is to place all participants into permanent culinary employment at the end of the program.

“If a participant is successful at completing the coursework, we're pretty sure we can successfully place that person,” she said in a news release.

The program is in its fourth year, with 90 percent of graduates from previous years still employed.

The program's curriculum director is Tristan Toleno, a member of the Vermont House of Representatives who is also a partner in Entera Artisanal Catering. In addition, chefs and other participating food professionals will provide instruction.

Classroom and lab space is at the educational kitchen located at the Stroll's headquarters, the River Garden, and there will be frequent field trips to other locations including farms, food producers, and institutional kitchens.

The program's curriculum includes:

• Food processing skills: basic food preparation, knife safety and techniques, kitchen safety, commercial dishwashing, culinary math skills, customer etiquette, nutrition, plating and presentation, expediting, minimizing food wastage.

• Introductory management skills, including inventory and cost control.

• Commercial food basics: sanitation, cooking science, nutrition information, sourcing.

• ServSafe food-handler training (successful completion provides ServSafe food-handler certificate).

• Local food systems and the value of maximizing use of local food.

• Job readiness skills: timeliness, cleanliness, grooming and appropriate dress, personal finance, time management, being supervised, resume building.

• On-the-job training: Participants will spend more than half their time gaining experience in local commercial kitchens.

Enrollment is limited to 12 persons. The program will take place from July 2 until Sept. 21.

Qualifications include a history of low income, a history of unemployment or underemployment, and residence in Windham County in Vermont or Cheshire County in New Hampshire, along with a serious interest in a culinary career and willingness to commit to the program's values, rules, and requirements.

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