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Restaurant Ready Program Prepares Teens for a Career in Culinary

Our Western Sussex Boys & Girls Club is home to a number of exciting activities and programs, including an expanding mini-farm and their on-site commercial kitchen. To help highlight the food related features, the Club recently launched the Restaurant Ready Program. Created in partnership with the Delaware Restaurant Foundation and the National Restaurant Association Education Foundation, “Restaurant Ready” is a six-phase online course that teaches kids soft skills to prepare them to join the hospitality and culinary industries. The coursework ranges from personal responsibility to more restaurant-specific information to help participants rise from apprentice to managerial status within the restaurant industry.

Tony Windsor, the Grants Manager who oversees the program, speaks highly of the amazing possibilities that the program brings to students; “Our Restaurant Ready introductory classes provide students with access to all of the opportunities that the two Restaurant Associations offer as part of the national ‘Restaurant Apprenticeship’ program. This includes special tools such as all national Serve-Safe accreditation classes and opportunities to train in paid internships with restaurants while enrolled in the apprenticeship program.”

After completing the six online courses and a final comprehension quiz, participants are invited to a graduation ceremony where they collect a $250 stipend for their hard work and dedication to learning. Program instructors then connect the graduates to representatives from local restaurants and members of the Delaware Restaurant Foundation as an opportunity to apply their new knowledge in the workforce and begin their career journey.

Beyond preparing the students for future jobs in the culinary industry, the soft-skills coursework provides information that applies to a wide variety of industries. Program Director Lindsay Samsel speaks of the importance of this knowledge. “It could be used towards any job. For instance, the first core competency course is personal responsibility, so it teaches you what to wear to an interview, what to say in an interview, if you should have your cell phone at work, or if you should worry about what you post on social media”. With the latter courses focused on preparing students for working in the culinary field, the program provides a holistic training for beginning in the restaurant industry.

The Restaurant Ready program recently graduated twenty-eight students, ten from the Laurel Boys & Girls Club and eighteen from Delmar High School. Delmar’s representatives were thrilled with the success of the program and are working with Club Staff to bring Restaurant Ready on site for culinary training in the Western Sussex Club’s commercial kitchen. The kitchen, which uses fresh vegetables from the mini-farm to feed Club kids across lower Delaware, provides a perfect venue for on-site learning in the culinary field. The Club also worked in conjunction with the high school for the program as a part of the Club’s ongoing relationship to local high school students. This coming fall, the Future Farmers of America students in the community will work in the Club’s mini-farm to produce homecoming corsages from the farm’s Dahlias. Partnerships like these and programs like Restaurant Ready are just some of the ways our Western Sussex Club is impacting their local community.

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