The Foodlink Career Fellowship’s Class of 2021 celebrated the culimination of a yearlong culinary journey at Foodlink with a graduation ceremony Wednesday at The Commissary in downtown Rochester.
Seven chefs accepted their final certificates of completion for the program, which is a registered New York State cook apprenticeship. This is the third class to graduate from the Foodlink Career Fellowship — and the first to start and complete the program in the midst of the pandemic. The Class of 2021 also had the unique opportunity to play pivitol roles with the launch of the Foodlink Community Cafe this past spring.
“To paraphrase an author I admire, courage means showing up when the outcome is uncertain,” said Jes Scannell, Director of Career Empowerment Initiatives at Foodlink. “There has been no time more uncertain in our lifetimes, for the industry we love, for our communities and ourselves, than the past 19 months. But these chefs showed up on Day One for themselves, and their families, and then for each other, for Foodlink and for our community. I could not be prouder to celebrate their accomplishments today.”
The graduates include: Chauncy Anderson, Charnel Council, McKenzie Dingman, Courey Harris, Joshua Orsini, KayJona Rogers and Olvin Cortes. All of the Fellows have already found work locally at either the Foodlink Community Cafe, Wegmans, are a variety of other local restaurants.
Remarks were given by several members of Foodlink’s leadership team, as well as Chef Cruz Nieves, the Executive Chef at Rella, who shared wisdom with the graduates, encouraging them to “be yourself” in the kitchen.
“When you start your path in this career, it’s never going to be easy, but stay focused and stay true to yourself,” Nieves said.
New this year, the Fellowship honored the life and legacy of Jimmy Stiner, a member of the Class of 2020 who passed away this past spring. The Jimmy Stiner Award was created to honor a Fellow from each graduating class who embodies Jimmy’s resilience, commitment to growth and this craft, and positivity shared with the Fellowship, family and community. The award was given to Olvin Cortes.
Following the event, Fellows and guests were treated to catering from three small businesses who call The Commissary home: Grill Bae, Biscotti Brewers & Que Chèvere.
The fourth class of the Foodlink Career Fellowship is currently a few months shy of the halfway point of the program, and recruitment is underway for the fifth class, which is set to start in January.
RECRUITMENT: Learn how to nominate a Fellow for the next class