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Atlantic Cape’s Academy of Culinary Arts Program Graduates Encouraged to Make Goals and Dream Big at Awards Ceremony

05/18/2023 | Media Contact: David Zuba, Public Relations Manager and Copywriter | (609) 343-4933
An Academy of Culinary Arts graduate receives hugs and kisses from her family members

MAYS LANDING — Years of hard work, perseverance and passion for the culinary arts culminated with a milestone in the lives of Atlantic Cape Community College’s Academy of Culinary Arts’ (ACA) graduates as they were recognized during the ACA’s 41st Annual Awards Ceremony on May 17 in the Quad on the Mays Landing campus.

Atlantic Cape President Dr. Barbara Gaba speaks at the Academy of Culinary Arts graduation on May 17Atlantic Cape President Dr. Barbara Gaba honored the 30 culinary arts and 13 baking & pastry graduates, and reflected the ACA’s excellence and professionalism.

“I am so very proud of the Academy of Culinary Arts. It is indeed our signature program here at Atlantic Cape. I am reminded of the accomplished chefs, bakers and restaurateurs who have come through our doors and gone on to great careers across the country and the globe. The Academy has truly earned its reputation as an institution of excellence,” Gaba said. “The success of our Academy’s graduates rests on the shoulders of our Chef educators. They are the consummate professionals and they are integral to the Academy’s excellence. All of our graduates here today rose up to meet their challenges to become the best they can be.”

Dr. Denise Coulter speaks at the Academy of Culinary Arts graduation on May 17Atlantic Cape’s Senior Dean of Liberal Studies and Culinary Arts Dr. Denise Coulter commended the graduates for overcoming the long days and hours that were required to complete the culinary academy, and offered meaningful advice as well.

“What a remarkable moment. You can leave here knowing you possess the necessary skills to take that next step forward in your careers. The possibilities are endless so aim big!,” Coulter emphatically stated. “Hold on to your dreams, but remember that you are responsible for making them come true. Do the things that will get you to that goal. We are so proud of you and we wish you the very best.”

Two culinary arts graduates pose with their diplomasGuest speaker and 1992 gold medal Academy of Culinary Arts alumna Deborah Pellegrino, executive director chef at Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa, implored the graduates to shoot for the stars.

“Dream big! Be positive, be honest, have integrity and lead by example. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don't let negativity influence you, choose to be positive, a good human, kind, flexible, tolerant and never lose focus,” said Pellegrino, who has also been a Food Network Challenge winner and world-traveling private chef. “You can make your future happen. Always strive to be better and the knowledge you gain from your experiences can never be taken away from you.”

Chef Educator Vincent Tedeschi and Valedictorian & Nathan Schwartz Award winner Cole PerfettiChef Educator Vincent Tedeschi introduced this year’s Valedictorian Cole Perfetti and bestowed upon him the Nathan Schwartz Award, which was created in his memory. Schwartz, who was a role model to many of his fellow students, was an exceptional scholar and member of the Academy of Culinary Arts’ first graduating class in 1983. He was also a non-traditional student who returned to college after a professional career and raising a family. Unfortunately, following his graduation that year, he tragically passed after an automobile accident.

Perfetti spoke to the culinarians’ importance in not only cuisine, but in culture and art.

Culinary Student Association officers with their medals“It is my honor and privilege to stand before you all. I want to thank our wonderful group of instructors and mentors, faculty and friends all who have gone above and beyond in an effort to raise us to new heights,” Perfetti said. “The culinary arts are forever evolving as we discover and develop these flavors of bliss and community. The culinary arts protects, teaches and defines culture. We recognize the next generation of chefs today who will usher in the future of food, culture and art. This class is the pinnacle of headstrong determination and will stop at nothing to lay their claim. I have hope and confidence that we will all do just that.”

Chef Educator Ruth LaTorre recognized the graduating officers of the Culinary Students Association (CSA) with a gift to thank them for their leadership over the past year. They included President Elvis Rodriquez, Vice President Danina White, Treasurer Zachary Martin and Secretary Amber Devine.

Director of the Academy of Culinary Arts Chef Joseph Sheridan addresses his graduatesAs emotion and admiration filled his eyes and voice, Director of the Academy of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Joseph Sheridan offered some closing words to his graduating class.

“Take a moment to reflect on your journey. You have risen to the challenges that have come your way and emerged as the professional culinarians you are today. Your culinary education does not end when you leave here today. It is a lifelong endeavor,” Sheridan said. “Remember that you are not just cooks, you are storytellers. You are nourishers of the soul and guardians of the culture of cuisine.”

Sheridan also espoused the merits of traveling in a culinary professional’s life and career.

“I urge you all, if you are able to do so, to please travel. It is an incredibly enriching part of your journey. It offers a unique opportunity to broaden your horizons, expand your culinary knowledge and gain valuable insight into diverse cultures and cuisines.”

And in parting, Sheridan reminded his graduates to, “remember to share your knowledge with others. This is how we create our legacies. And never forget those who have helped you along this journey.”

A graduate smiles while receiving her diploma during the culinary arts graduation ceremony on May 17Culinary Arts recipients: Hudhiyfah Abdulhaqq, Chandler Accardi, Jonathan Ahlum, Ahmad Brooks-Vick, Tiana Brown, Antonio Bruno, Jocelyn Caceres, Jared DeNicola, Amber Devine, Lexi Hamilton, Noah Johnson, Marina Kebalo, Isaac Kiess, Hannah Lashley, Matthew Lashley, Michael Licari, Mason Mangione, Zachary Martin, Daniel Mendez, Julian Molina, Caroline Muhlbaier, Cole Perfetti, Nathan Price, Elvis Rodriquez, Quincy Smalls, Ethan Szymanski, Benjamin Taylor, Tommy Tran, Jason Ulrich and Danina White.

Baking & Pastry recipients: Brittany Bates, Tiana Brown, Jamie Callan, Ashlee Carr, Jada Edwards, Kaylee Hernandez, Hannah Lashley, Damaris Matos, Tatiana Matos, Felixia McDowell, Alex Naumchik, Anastasia Ortiz-Cartagena and Trista Popowski.

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About Atlantic Cape Community College

Atlantic Cape is a comprehensive two-year community college serving the residents of Atlantic and Cape May counties. The college offers over 40 career, transfer and workforce development programs to more than 8,000 students annually at three campuses in New Jersey: Atlantic City, Cape May Court House and Mays Landing.