Six Complete Academy of Culinary Arts Short-term Training Program

Men and women in chefs uniforms standing and smiling.

From left, chef adjunct Steven Cozzi, Askia Givens, Rio Grande; Linda Cheung, Egg Harbor Township; Christina McGarry, Egg Harbor; Brandon Bott, Haddonfield; David Ruffin, Atlantic City; Gerald Leis, Margate; and chef adjunct Ryan Macey.

Six students completed The Academy of Culinary Arts four-month noncredit training program that began this past September in the Caesars Entertainment Wing for Hospitality and Gaming Studies at Atlantic Cape Community College’s Charles D. Worthington Atlantic City Campus. An awards ceremony recognizing the students’ achievement was held at the campus, Tuesday, Jan. 24.

The program began with Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts, welcoming guests, followed by Richard Perniciaro, interim president at Atlantic Cape, talking about the many opportunities available to the graduates through the ACA. Otto Hernandez, vice president of Academic Affairs, impressed upon graduates to continue their education and pursue their dreams. Christina McGarry of Egg Harbor delivered the culinarian’s code. Certificates were presented to students by Culinary Training Program adjunct Chef Ryan Macey of Ocean City. The graduates were also trained by adjunct Chef Steven Cozzi.

Male student in chefs uniform speaking at podium.

Valedictorian Gerald Leis of Margate addresses attendants and graduates.

Valedictorian of the Culinary Training Program, Gerald Leis of Margate, spoke about how completing this program was the first step in achieving a childhood dream. Having gone to college and receiving a degree in computer engineering, his heart always led him back to the kitchen.

David Ruffin of Atlantic City spoke after the ceremony of how this program saved his life. He had been a victim of the recession, losing two business, and struggled with the loss of family and battles with addiction. He said he found inspiration in his fellow graduates’ talents and is ready to embark on a new path.

Students who completed the Culinary Training Program are David Ruffin, Atlantic City; Brandon Bott, Haddonfield; Linda Cheung, Egg Harbor Township; Gerald Leis, Margate; Askia Givens, Rio Grande and Christina McGarry, Egg Harbor.

The program teaches the skills to begin a career as a cook.

The next Culinary Training Program, as well as the Baking and Pastry Training Program, begin Feb. 27, at the Atlantic City Campus, 1535 Bacharach Blvd. Both programs end in June. Cost for each program is $5,895. For information, contact Judy DeSalvo at 609-343-5624 or

Male student in chef uniform speaking at podium.

David Ruffin of Atlantic City speaks to attendants and graduates.

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