Dreaming of a culinary career? Let's get cooking!

Recruitment underway for next class! Make 2024 the year YOU take action on your culinary dreams!

We’re now accepting nominations for our 9th and 10th classes, which begins in September and November! Interested candidates must be nominated by a community-based organization or mentor. Check out the links below, and for more information, email us at FCFellowship@foodlinkny.org!

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

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.

Stay tuned for the next class of Foodlink Career Fellows! 

Contact Jes for any questions at jscannell@foodlinkny.org or 585-413-5059

Open House!

Interested in learning more about the Foodlink Career Fellowship? 

Join us for an Open House at the Foodlink Community Café, located in the downtown library at 115 South Avenue! 

Prospective applicants and nominators can join the Career Empowerment Initiatives team from 10-11 a.m. on Feb. 1. Coffee to be served!  

Stay tuned for more information, including dates to tour the Foodlink Community Kitchen! 

Open House

Interested in learning more about the Foodlink Career Fellowship? Join us for an open house at the Foodlink Community Café! Prospective applicants and nominators can join the Career Empowerment Initiatives team from 10 - 11 am on January 31, 2023. Coffee to be served! Stay tuned for tour dates of the Foodlink Community Kitchen.

About the program

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 learn critical 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 Café, a nonprofit, pay-it-forward café 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)
"If you have an interest in culture, a love for food, and the wish to do something creative with your life, that requires you to continuously work on a craft; then The Foodlink Career Fellowship Program is for you! The program teaches you the basic skills to work in a professional kitchen and provides you with a helpful start for future culinary opportunities."
Nicole Calloway
Class of 2023
"The Foodlink Career Fellowship Program teaches you more about the culinary world. You get hands-on experience from chefs, learning the proper cooking techniques, knife skills, and how to make different types of dishes. You also receive various certifications like the ServSafe Certificate."
Chervoka Morris
Class of 2022
"Anyone who wants to be a part of the Foodlink Career Fellowship program should, because within one year, your life can change and your dreams can become a reality!"
Charnel Council
Class of 2021
"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 Program has opened many doors for me in the workplace, professionally and personally. I've learned new techniques and recipes that I was completely unaware of. For this reason,I urge all those who have a desire and love for cooking, to apply for the Foodlink Career Fellowship Program!"
Lazaro Duquesne Martinez
Class of 2022

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, St. John Fisher University, 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.

As the program has expanded, supporters such as The Jacques Pépin Foundation, the City of Rochester (ARPA grant) and the KeyBank Foundation have made significant investments in the Fellowship. 

ACFEF-approved program

The Foodlink Career Fellowship was recognized by The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation in 2023. As an ACFEF- approved program, the Foodlink Career Fellowships is recognized as delivering high standards in culinary arts education. 

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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