The Academy of Culinary Arts awarded culinary medals and certificates to 32 new chefs and baking and pastry professionals prepared with the latest culinary knowledge on Monday, May 18.
Twenty-three graduates honed their skills in the Academy’s Culinary Arts program, and four completed the Baking and Pastry program. Two short-term specialization certificates in Baking and Pastry were awarded; three in Food Service Management; and one in Catering.
The awards ceremony was held in Atlantic Cape Community College’s Walter Edge Theater on the Mays Landing Campus, and honored the graduates with gold, silver or bronze medals or certificates based on their grade point averages and criteria established by the American Culinary Federation. Specialization graduates received certificates of completion. A reception at Careme’s, the on-campus, student-run gourmet restaurant, followed the ceremony.
Helena Borro of Sterling Forest, New York, was named valedictorian and winner of the Nathan Schwartz Award, which is presented to the top student of each graduating class.
The keynote speaker was LaTasha McCutchen Bogdanov, executive chef for Gordon Ramsay’s Pub & Grill at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino and winner of Season 13 Hell’s Kitchen.
Bogdanov advised graduates, “You can’t choose a career based on the financial reward. You must choose something you love doing because it is not just about getting a paycheck, but about self gratification. Food brings joy, food brings purpose to life, and to be a leader, you must lead by example.” She also reminded graduates that if they never settle, push forward, and have integrity, their career will never fail them.
Erinn Hendricks, president of the Culinary Student Association, and Kyle Timpson, president of the Baking and Pastry Student Association, presented awards to graduates Helena Borro, Jonathan Daikhin, Tusheeway Henderson, Alice Drummond, Robert Johnson, Somer Gegeckas and Uriya Laster for their dedication to the student clubs.
Kelly McClay, Academy of Culinary Arts dean, closed the ceremony encouraging students to
practice sustainability in their culinary careers. “Visit the farms where the food is grown. Talk to the fishermen who give you your products. Learn the difference between off-the-shelf and fresh ingredients.”
Honorees, their hometowns (by county) and their awards are:
Dorothy Burkett, Hammonton — Bronze, Baking & Pastry
Gianna Cottone, Linwood — Silver, Culinary Arts
Anthony Della Vecchia, Egg Harbor City — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Alice Drummond, Egg Harbor City— Certificate, Food Service Management Specialization
Tusheeway Henderson, Newtonville — Silver, Culinary Arts
Felicia Ingram, Egg Harbor City — Silver, Culinary Arts
Robert Johnson, Mays Landing — Certificate, Food Service Management Specialization
Uriya Laster, Northfield — Silver, Baking & Pastry
Amanda Marcheski, Ventnor — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Lucianna Nuzzo, Egg Harbor Township — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Bryon Price, Egg Harbor Township — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Tatiana Quinones, Atlantic City — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Jonathan Rataski, Northfield — Certificate, Culinary Arts
Jenna Russo, Egg Harbor Township — Certificate, Baking & Pastry Specialization
Ravina Scott, Atlantic City — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Shauntae Smith, Mays Landing — Gold, Culinary Arts
Steffany Torres, Atlantic City — Silver, Culinary Arts
Mark Haber, Medford — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Alaina Chambers, Mt. Ephraim — Certificate, Culinary Arts
Jonathan Daikhin, Voorhees — Silver, Culinary Arts
Madison Del Rossi, Berlin — Silver, Culinary Arts
Blake Weisman, Atco — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Adam Prettyman, North Cape May — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Kolin Prosser, South Dennis — Silver, Culinary Arts
Spenser Burlew, Bridgeton — Gold, Culinary Arts
Kristy Chimenty, Sewell — Bronze, Baking & Pastry
Amanda DiStefano, Newfield — Gold, Culinary Arts
Sawyer Galati, Mullica Hill — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Somer Gegeckas, Mt. Royal — Silver, Baking & Pastry
Elizabeth Reklewski, Franklinville — Certificate, Baking & Pastry Specialization
Kevin Kinslow, Manchester — Certificate, Baking & Pastry Specialization; Certificate, Catering Specialization
ORANGE COUNTY, NEW YORK
Helena Borro, Sterling Forest — Gold, Culinary Arts
The ACA has been training future chefs for more than 30 years. Academy graduates can be found in kitchens around the world in major hotel and restaurant chains, while others have gone on to open their own restaurants and catering businesses. For more information about the Academy of Culinary Arts, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the ACA online at www.atlantic.edu/aca.
Fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 24. Seats and scholarships are available. To register, call Valerie Weller at (609) 343-4944.