Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Medals To New Chefs at Dec. 21 Ceremony

girl speaking at podium

Valedictorian Katherine Jensen of Brick addresses his fellow graduates and the audience at the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Ceremony Dec. 21.

The Academy of Culinary Arts awarded culinary medals and certificates to 10 new chefs and baking and pastry professionals prepared with the latest culinary knowledge on Thursday, Dec. 21.

Five graduates honed their skills in the Academy’s Culinary Arts program, and two completed the Baking and Pastry program. One short-term specialization certificate in Baking and Pastry was awarded, as well as one short-term specialization certificate in Food Service Management and one short-term specialization certificate in Catering Specialization.

The awards ceremony was held in Careme’s Restaurant located in the Academy of Culinary Arts at 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.

Dr. Barbara Gaba, president of Atlantic Cape Community College, spoke at the ceremony and said, “To earn a credential from the Academy of Culinary Arts, you have demonstrated hard work, discipline and focus. These qualities are essential to your success in the culinary industry, and we are all confident that you will achieve your goals.”

Katherine Jensen of Brick was named valedictorian and winner of the Nathan Schwartz Award, which is presented to the top student of each graduating class. Jensen ended her speech with a quote from Confucius, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

three male students and a female student smiling

Academy of Culinary Arts students from left, Katherine Jensen of Brick, Luis Batista of Atlantic City, Wilbur Bass of Williamstown and Santino Barbere of Ventnor before the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Ceremony begins on Dec. 21.

The keynote speaker was William McGinnity, owner of Nobil Catering as well as Cousin’s Restaurant in Ocean City, and an Atlantic Cape Distinguished Alumni. McGinnity advised graduates, “Take advantage of the culinary program forever. There will be failures in life– take it all in, learn from it and move on.”

man speaking at podium

Keynote speaker William McGinnity speaks to graduates at the Academy of Culinary Arts Awards Ceremony Dec. 21.

Chef Kelly McClay, Academy of Culinary Arts dean, closed the ceremony by encouraging graduates to give consideration on how they can have a positive impact on the industry when planning their career. “Work to reduce the culinary footprint. Recycle and reduce waste. Use local ingredients– they taste better. You can make a difference.”

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


Tierney Adamson, Northfield—Certificate, Baking & Pastry Specialization

Santino Barbere, Ventnor—Certificate, Culinary Arts

Luis Batista, Atlantic City— Certificate, Culinary Arts

Kaitlin Nakamura, Brigantine—Silver, Baking & Pastry

Shauntae Smith, Mays Landing—Certificates, Catering Specialization and Food Service Management Specialization


Shavonna Wallace, Sicklerville—Silver, Culinary Arts


Wilbur Bass, Williamstown—Silver, Culinary Arts

Sara Hendrickson, Williamstown—Bronze, Baking & Pastry

Nakoa Staats, Glassboro—Certificate, Food Service Management Specialization


Katherine Jensen, Brick—Silver, Culinary Arts

The Academy of Culinary Arts at Atlantic Cape Community College recently was ranked the No. 1 culinary school in New Jersey by Best Choice Schools.

The ACA has been training future chefs for 35 years, and is accredited by the American Culinary Federation. For more information about the ACA, call 1-800-645‑CHEF, email or visit

Spring classes begin Tuesday, Jan. 16. Seats and scholarships are available. To register, call Judy DeSalvo at 609-343-5624 or


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