Recruitment underway for next class!

Make 2023 the year YOU take action on your culinary dreams! We’re now accepting nominations for our 8th class, which begins in September! Interested candidates must be nominated by a community-based organization or mentor. Check out the links below, and for more information, email us at!

Learn more about the Foodlink Career Fellowship | Digital form: Application & Nomination form | Digital forms: Application | Nomination

Stay tuned for the next class of Foodlink Career Fellows! 

Contact Jes for any questions at or 585-413-5059

Foodlink Career Fellowship

We create pathways to prosperity for individuals with barriers to sustainable employment.

Foodlink’s one-of-a-kind culinary training program prepares people for middle-skills careers with a living wage in the regional food industry, and increases the self-sufficiency, well-being and food security of our Fellows.



The Foodlink Career Fellowship offers an intensive, yearlong culinary curriculum that includes both classroom and hands-on training within Foodlink’s state-of-the-art commercial kitchen. Fellows play an integral role alongside the Foodlink Community Kitchen’s staff in preparing thousands of healthy meals daily for Rochester children, all while increasing the core competencies needed to work in a fast-paced kitchen environment. 

Fellows also learn culinary skills via Rouxbe, a world-renowned online culinary training software, and work on essential soft skills development to prepare them for future job opportunities. The final months of the program are spent at an externship with a regional employer.

The Fellowship is an official New York State Registered Apprenticeship Training program — the first such cook apprenticeship in the state. In 2020, it was awarded nearly $1 million in NYS Workforce Development Initiative funding to sustain future cohorts. In 2021, the Class of 2021 Fellows helped launch the Foodlink Community Cafe, a nonprofit, pay-it-forward cafe at the Central Library in downtown Rochester. 


Pre-Apprenticeship (months 1-3)

  • Food Safety – Food Handler Certification, Level 2 
  • Certification in CPR/ First Aid/ AED 
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Certification 
  • Introduction to Culinary Math/ Cooking/Nutrition
  • Peer to Peer Mental Health training 

Apprenticeship (months 4-12)

  • ROUXBE Professional Culinary Foundations, Levels 1 & 2 
  • Allergen certification (ServSafe/ AllerTrain) 
  • ServSafe Manager’s certification 
  • Minimum of 1000 hours of on-the-job training both in Foodlink’s Community Kitchen & Community Café
  • Externship with local Employment partner
  • Final public presentation of learning 

Alumni Engagement (up to 4 years post-graduation)

  • Individualized professional development & coaching
  • Networking, workshops, and continued educational opportunities
  • Support with personal challenges and issues that impact employment and overall well being
  • Social engagements with peer network
  • Re-certifications
  • Mentoring opportunities to current Fellows 
  • The inaugural class of 2019 celebrated the program’s first graduation at the Rochester Public Market. Eight Fellows moved on to careers at Wegmans, local restaurants and colleges.
  • The inaugural class graduated with an average starting wage of $14.22 — more than $3 above the state’s minimum wage. In 2023, our Fellows’ average current wage stood at $17.21.
  • 88% of Fellows are active in the workforce, post-graduation (October, 2023)
"I'm more open-minded about working as a team with different personalities. This program brings the best out of people. I appreciate Foodlink’s staff for helping me grow in a number of ways."
Da'Quan Quick
Class of 2019
"Working with Foodlink has been a good way to give back to an organization that gives so much to the community. I’m happy to have the chance to inspire and teach aspiring cooks/chefs trying to get into the industry I have spent most of my life in."
Anton Guzman
Executive Chef, Mueller Restaurant Group
"If you really love to be in the kitchen, you’re going to love to be here at Foodlink. You’re going to learn, and have fun. I really want to be a Sous Chef and have to learn a lot so I can get there. One day, I hope to open a restaurant that serves Puerto Rican food."
Gloria Soldevia-Ramos
Class of 2019
"The Foodlink Career Fellowship is a top-notch program that I was introduced to this year and was very impressed with the Foodlink staff and the team they have ... Here at the club, we pride ourselves on giving back to the community, so this was a perfect match for the Genesee Valley Club."
Michael Macri
Executive Chef, Genesee Valley Club

Community support

Foodlink could not have built this program without input, support and guidance from regional employers, our nominating partners, and, of course, the bold funders who took a chance on this initiative.

Employers such as Wegmans Food Markets were critical to our early success. Other employers such as the Kelaron Group, Del Monte Hotel Group, Native Restaurant & Eatery, Le Petite Poutine,  Genesee Valley Club, St. John Fisher University, Monroe Community College, and the University of Rochester all helped shape the curriculum to address the workforce needs of the Finger Lakes region. We also leaned on the national expertise of our friends at Catalyst Kitchens, which supports nonprofits that provide pathways to jobs through a foodservice job-training model. 

The pilot year of the program was made possible through the financial contributions of three major funders: The William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, William and Sheila Konar Foundation, and ESL Charitable Foundation. The William and Sheila Konar Foundation also awarded Foodlink a second year of funding to support the Class of 2020.

Our FCF Alumni


The Foodlink Career Fellowship accepts applicants through a nomination process from mentors and local community-based organizations.

If you would like to recommend an applicant for a future class set to begin in 2021, please fill out this form and someone from our team will be in touch.

We will update our website with more information about recruitment for the Class of 2022 at a later date. Thank you!

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