Advancing National Service

This Program is Transforming Unemployed Veterans Into In-Demand Chefs

May 6, 2014
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This Program is Transforming Unemployed Veterans Into In-Demand Chefs
Vietnam War veteran. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Many of the first graduates of the Farm-to-Fork program are eating up job offers.

Members of the Armed Forces don’t just serve our country. Some serve mouth-watering food, too.

In Canandaigua, New York, some formerly unemployed veterans are learning how to prepare restaurant meals through the Farm-to-Fork Service Technician Program at Finger Lakes Community College, a program that came about through collaboration between the college, Rochester Institute of Technology, and two local restaurants — The Inn on the Lake and Wegmans. Tuition to the three-week program is free to all veterans and their spouses.

Last week, eight veteran students graduated. They celebrated their achievement by preparing a feast of chicken marsala, chickpea-shrimp frittata, and more. Their instructor, Nick Gozik, told John Addyman of the Victor Post, “They were terrific students. They’re all vets, they had a great work ethic and they formed a team. They are much higher-quality students because of their backgrounds.”

Several of the veterans that Addyman spoke to already have jobs lined up that will make use of their new culinary skills. Air Force veteran Steve Dolgos said, “I have a couple of job offers.” He plans to begin working at the Captain’s Room in his hometown of Geneva in May. Larry Lerner, a retired Army vet, is heading to Denver to work at his son’s restaurant, which is located in the Mile High city.

Army vet Jerry Sensabaugh lost his job in January and was eager to train for a new career. “This is one more branch in my tree of life. I’m encouraged. This course is something more in my hip pocket,” he said. Hopefully he’ll be serving up tasty meals to hungry customers soon.

MORE: For These Vets There’s Solace in the Simple Act of Making Bread

 

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