Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Medals To New Chefs at May 16 Ceremony

Photo 3The Academy of Culinary Arts awarded culinary medals and certificates to 25 new chefs and baking and pastry professionals prepared with the latest culinary knowledge on Monday, May 16.

Fifteen graduates honed their skills in the Academy’s Culinary Arts program, and nine completed the Baking and Pastry program. One short-term specialization certificate in Baking and Pastry was awarded.

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.

Amanda Giamporcaro of Blue Anchor 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 Cookie Till, owner of Steve and Cookie’s By the Bay. Till advised graduates, “You know it’s a challenging, even grueling (career). If you are serious about working in this industry, what’s the one thing you will need? Passion. The passion I speak of is for and about the food.”Photo 4

Kyle Timpson, Lorena Koidl and Giamporcaro were recognized for their roles as officers of the Culinary Student Association and Baking and Pastry Club.

Chef Kelly McClay, Academy of Culinary Arts dean, closed the ceremony encouraging students to continue their education both in the classroom and on the job. “You will always have the support and resources of the school to help you reach your goals,” she said. “Engage with your community. Become a part of something bigger.”


Honorees, their hometowns (by county) and their awards are:


Photo 1

Kyle Timpson, Cape May Court House, and Wesley Cahill, Brigantine, take a moment to reflect prior to the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Ceremony May 16.

Duane Bair, Absecon — Certificate, Baking & Pastry Specialization

Wesley Cahill, Brigantine — Bronze, Culinary Arts

Itka Drinkard, Galloway — Silver, Culinary Arts

Alice Drummond, Egg Harbor City — Silver, Baking & Pastry

Nysha Melton, Galloway — Bronze, Baking & Pastry

Dylan Schaeffer, Egg Harbor Township — Silver, Baking & Pastry

Jonathon Stokes, Egg Harbor City — Bronze, Culinary Arts

Moises Vera, Absecon — Silver, Culinary Arts

Xiaochaun Wu, Galloway — Silver, Culinary Arts



Lenna Hur, Medford — Silver, Culinary Arts

Eric Larmore, Lumberton — Certificate, Culinary Arts

Photo 2

Alicia Pugliese, Newfield, and Nysha Melton, Galloway, take a moment to reflect prior to the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Ceremony May 16.


Ashley DeMarco, Clementon — Silver, Baking & Pastry

Amanda Giamporcaro, Blue Anchor — Gold, Culinary Arts

Thomas Hayes, Sicklerville — Bronze, Culinary Arts

Thomas Louis, Blackwood — Silver, Culinary Arts

Kyle Timpson, Cape May Court House — Bronze, Baking & Pastry


Adam Prettyman, North Cape May — Bronze, Culinary Arts
Nicholas Roash, Cape May — Silver, Culinary Arts



Rosemary Plantarich, Williamstown — Silver, Baking & Pastry

Alicia Pugliese, Newfield — Silver, Baking & Pastry

Halie Andersen, Mullica Hill — Bronze, Baking & Pastry 


Lauren Petrovski, Old Bridge — Bronze, Baking & Pastry 


Lorena Koidl, Point Pleasant Beach — Silver, Culinary Arts

Anthony Santone, Toms River — Silver, Culinary Arts

David Coleman, Forked River — Bronze, 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, or visit the ACA online at

Fall classes begin Monday, Aug. 29. Seats and scholarships are available. To register, call Valerie Weller at (609) 343-4944.

See more photos HERE. 

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