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Milford Beacon
  • Milford’s first Culinary School class graduates with new life skills

  • After years of planning for a $2.7 million expansion project that included a brand new state-of-the-art culinary facility, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch celebrated a milestone Tuesday with the graduation of its first Culinary School class.
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  • After years of planning for a $2.7 million expansion project that included a brand new state-of-the-art culinary facility, the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch celebrated a milestone Tuesday with the graduation of its first Culinary School class.
    Of the 11 graduates, five have already been offered jobs after the 14-week program’s 2-week internship allowed the students to receive hands-on experience in the restaurant industry.
    Through the program, students not only received ServSafe® certification and culinary skills, but also acquired tips on how to be professional in the workplace, and even had the opportunity to visit a meat processing plant and the Philadelphia Italian market.
    Culinary School Program Manager Brenda Palomo said that with the diversity of students, learning surpassed the culinary arts, allowing students to teach each other different languages, offering rides and helping out their fellow classmates.
    “We really became a family,” Palomo said after the graduation, in which a few students shared tears of joy for their accomplishment. “It led to them flourishing as students and as cooks.”
    For some of the students, like Nighferl Matos, the class offered pre-college experience in the culinary industry. But for others, like his mother Nery Matos, the class opened a door to a new career.
    Nery Matos said the class was a little difficult for her, as her first language is Spanish, but it was clear that she was proud of herself and her son as they stood side-by-side after graduation.
    “I’m very happy for this program,” Nery Matos said. “Thank you God for the opportunity to bring my son and me together.”
    Through the class, Nery Matos now has the opportunity to choose between one of two job offers: Texas Roadhouse in Seaford or Bethany Blues BBQ in Lewes.
    While Nery Matos tries to make a decision by January, her son Nighferl is preparing to attend Miami International University to study culinary arts, and said that the Food Bank’s fast-paced program has given him an idea of what to expect in college.
    “When we first started, we were kind of lost,” he said. “But now it has given us a vision on what we’re going to do with our future.”
    Palomo said that heading the new program was a learning experience for her, too, and that she enjoyed the opportunity to learn alongside the students.
    “A lot of these students … they have this spirit about them that they’re unafraid to learn,” Palomo said. “I saw them grow and I grew with them.”
    Page 2 of 2 - With the opening of the Milford branch’s Culinary School, the Food Bank of Delaware is the only Food Bank in the country to offer two locations for culinary training, including its Newark location, which opened in 2002.
    “These graduates are special because they’re laying the ground work [for future classes],” said Milford Branch Manager Chad Robinson. “They’ve been luminaries for everything we hope the Culinary School can accomplish downstate. We will always remember them as the first class. I’m sure every class will be special, but this class has a special place in our hearts.”

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