What an experience for the budding chefs in our CulinaryAcademy360 program at Independence360! On Saturday, March 12th, they showed off their skills and rubbed elbows with some of the best chefs in NJ…and all for a good cause. As the instructor for the adult classes for CulinaryAcademy360, I arranged for the team to participate in The Jersey Shore Chefs Association’s largest annual fundraiser “Winterfest 2017.”
A member of the American Culinary Federation, the Jersey Shore Chefs Association represents some of the finest talents in the culinary field from Executive Chefs, Pastry Chefs, Caterers, Culinary Educators and Junior members. This year’s Winterfest 2017, held at the Crystal Pleasant Yacht Club in Point Pleasant NJ, celebrated Food From Around The World, including an hors d’oeuvre competition and chef stations recreating recipes from countries around the world. Each year they hold this fundraising competition to support the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, The Victor J. Houston Scholarship Fund, Childhood Hunger Day and the ACF Culinary Foundation, which helps students get started in their culinary careers.
We were assigned Greece as a country. We decided to show off our skills with a vegetarian spread of medethe or mezze (small dishes, hot or cold, spicy or savory, served as appetizers) with crispy spiced chickpeas, smoked marinated olives, roasted peppers, assorted hummus, and babagnoush. For our official competition hors d’oeuvre, we decided to go with a Seasonal Greek Vegetable Medley on Rosemary infused Gluten-Free Greek Fresh Baked Flatbread.
Our students, Danielle and Nellie, made us so proud. They were really engaged, met all the chefs and other culinary students, and prepped and served hors d’oeuvres for over 100 guests! Danielle and Nellie had the opportunity to socialize with the other culinary students and ask questions about their dishes and how they felt about competing.
Congratulations Nellie and Danielle!
This opportunity was made possible by our newest program, CulinaryAcademy360, which was started with a generous grant from the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey. Created in September 2016, CulinaryAcademy360 was developed to provide students, ages 14 and older at Academy360 and adults at Independence360 with the opportunity to explore food service as a career path, as well as increase their ability to live independently by learning to cook for themselves. CulinaryAcademy360 provides day classes to clients of Independence360 as well as after-school and evening classes for Academy360 and participants of Spectrum360’s Adult Enrichment Program. The after-school and evening classes are also open to individuals with autism and related disabilities who attend other programs and schools. For more information about classes, contact Director, Chef Michael Matthews at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chef Nadia has over 15 years experience in the foodservice industry. She has Culinary Degree from Bergen County College, is a Certified Executive Chef from the American Culinary Federation, and is also Certified by the Natural Gourmet Institute as a Culinary Translator for People with Chronic Illnesses. She is the owner and Executive Chef of Culinary Arte, a cooking studio and haven for children and adults looking to improve their culinary skills.
Chef Nadia loves the beach, nature, food, culture, and art. In her spare time, she likes to visit museums, try different ethnic restaurants, visit farmer’s markets, and travel. She admits to an obsession with cake stands and cookbooks.