William & Mary Dining Services has established an apprenticeship program, in partnership with the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation, to support the development of future culinarians.
The American Culinary Federation is the premiere professional chefs’ organization in North America, dedicated to promoting the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education and certification of culinarians at a variety of levels.
The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation (ACFEF) apprenticeship program helps individuals become expert chefs through mentorship, training and education. William & Mary Dining Services, in partnership with Sodexo, operates the largest hybrid corporate apprenticeship program in the country, which combines on-the-job training with technical classroom instruction covering 10 concentration areas. During the program, apprentices develop strong culinary skills while working full-time under the mentorship of experienced chefs.
“We are extremely excited to partner with the American Culinary Federation Education Foundation to establish education programs to develop our team to the highest of industry standards,” explained Stephen Losee, William & Mary’s campus executive chef. “The College’s dining program is recognized as a leader in the industry, and working with the ACFEF is just one of the ways the team there strives to maintain that position.”
“We have organized guest speakers, cooking demonstrations and community involvement and support,” said Jeffrey McClure, resident district manager at William & Mary.
The university’s dining program is managed by Sodexo, a leader in providing foodservice and quality of life solutions for colleges, schools, healthcare facilities and businesses around the world. Sodexo is committed to supporting employees’ development goals and to providing avenues for those in the local community to enter the culinary field, said McClure. They offer extensive training and advancement opportunities for employees at all levels of the organization, encouraging employees to pursue career growth and development. The ACFEF apprenticeship program fits perfectly with the company’s philosophy on identifying, training and developing talented culinarians, McClure said.
Both Losee and McClure are certified executive chefs with the American Culinary Federation and strongly support the program. They recognize the value of this extensive training for chefs-in-training and those working in the culinary arts field. “Certification through the ACF has definitely influenced my career, and passing our culinary experience to our teams is a big win for everyone involved,” said Losee.
At William & Mary, 30 cooks are currently participating in the apprenticeship program, working with their mentors to hone their skills and identify potential paths for career advancement. In addition, 12 chefs at the university are also participating in the program, working towards higher-level certifications.
The program takes approximately two to three years to complete, including a certified culinary exam, which results in a national recognized certification through the American Culinary Federation.