WESTCHESTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN MOUNT
VERNON – A FOOD MAVEN’S HAVEN
Community College has been teaching food preparation and
service ever since 1946, when it first opened its doors in White Plains as The New York State Institute
of Applied Arts and Sciences. After more than six decades, the Department of
Food Service Administration is still thriving at the community college in Valhalla, offering associate degrees in Culinary Arts and
Management, Foods and Nutrition, and Dietetic Technician Nutrition Care, and
successfully equipping graduates for lifetime careers in the food service
industry. This success has led
the college to expand food course offerings to its newest extension site in Mount Vernon, located
at 175 Gramatan Avenue.
In a 16,000 square-foot building equipped with the most
modern computers and cutting-edge classroom space, the Mount Vernon Extension Center
offers dozens of credit courses in a wide variety of college subjects. But
one of its most outstanding features is the fully-equipped, state-of-the-art
culinary arts lab complete with a teaching kitchen, where students can take
courses with the goal of beginning their formal education in the field of
Culinary Arts and Food Services Management. They can then apply the credits
earned toward one of the food-related degrees or certificates offered at the
campus. Past experience has shown that a student who completes one of the
community college’s food programs is virtually guaranteed a job.
According to Prof. Daryl Nosek (Cross River), chair of Westchester Community College’s Food Service
Administration Department, “Our alumni continue to find success in a
multitude of restaurants, on-site food service companies, country clubs, and
even as teachers at this college and elsewhere.
There are more jobs than we have graduates to fill; if students want
to work in the food industry there are many job opportunities available.”
But degree courses are only part of the food-related
offerings at the Mount Vernon
site. More than a dozen non-credit courses are offered for community members
who want to learn everyday cooking basics, cake baking and decorating, quick
and easy meal preparation, or cooking for a healthy lifestyle.
There is even a class for men in the basics of cooking, as well as a
Academy” which offers classes for youngsters
ages 10 to 13.
And the food industry courses are not just about
learning to cook. If you’re thinking of starting your own restaurant or
catering business, or just contemplating a career in culinary arts, you can
take one of the courses that provide an overview of these fields to help you
make your decision. For students who speak other languages, the “ESL
(English as a Second Language) through Cooking” course uses the kitchen to
its advantage, using this environment for language practice. Preparing and
sharing a meal together gives participants the opportunity to build their
English language skills (speaking, listening, reading, and essential
vocabulary). For their final
project, each student must teach a class—in English—on the preparation of a
dish from their own culture.
For those already working in a restaurant or other food
service establishment, the Department of Health sponsors a seven-week course
in safe food handling. The course prepares workers to take the county’s
certification exam in food sanitation and safety.
The Mount Vernon center is the fifth urban extension site
established by Westchester
Community College, as it
continues its strategy of expanding into the county's cities. The college
operates Westchester Arts Workshop sites in Peekskill
and White Plains, as well as an Ossining site
geared toward health and science programs and the Yonkers center which focuses on computer
technology and programming.