The 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.”
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:
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.