Work-Based Learning in the Lower East Side

By January 3, 2024January 19th, 2024Blog, In the City, The Power of Cooking

We’re so excited to share that we launched our Work-Based Learning Apprenticeship program this past Fall! Aimed at 16–24 year olds getting ready to enter the workplace, the program focuses on skill development, career exploration and work-based learning in food and health-related fields. Students will also have the opportunity to explore advanced culinary techniques and networking opportunities. Since its launch, the class has had special visits from chef Jae Lee, owner of East Village Korean-American gastropub Nowon, and chef Leia Gaccione, owner of South + Pine American Eatery, a rustic bistro in New Jersey. Click to learn more about our Work-Based Learning Apprenticeship!


 

Fall was an exciting time at The Sylvia Center (TSC) as we launched our new Work-Based Learning Apprenticeship program for 16–24 year olds at Lower East Side Prep in partnership with Grand St. Settlement. Focusing on skill development, career exploration and work-based learning in food and health-related fields, the curriculum starts with basic cooking and nutrition education and progresses to more advanced culinary skills, such as food science, creating a dish without a recipe and complex baking techniques.

And it’s not just practical skills that participants will hone. They’ll also enjoy guest chef cook-alongs, panel discussions, site visits to restaurants and coaching by industry professionals. This kind of comprehensive approach allows students to explore professional opportunities and dive into their passions. TSC will also collaborate with schools to provide job readiness skills like networking, resume development and interview preparation.

After a 14–16-week after-school series, the program will conclude with six weeks of paid work-based learning experiences for up to 15 students, such as event preparation with professional chefs, TSC meal-kit packing and distribution for family classes, recipe testing and more. Teen participants will receive weekly on-site support from the TSC team and take part in weekly reflection and development meetings.

Since its fall launch, the class has had special visits from chef Jae Lee, owner of East Village Korean-American gastropub Nowon, and chef Leia Gaccione, owner of South + Pine American Eatery, a rustic bistro in New Jersey. Although many of the students didn’t speak English, chefs Lee and Gaccione were able to teach the class knife skills (and give valuable career advice!) with the help of a translator from Grand St. Settlement.

The intimate classroom setting has allowed each student to easily follow along with recipe demos, as the class explores both savory and sweet dishes, such as roasted pears with toasted oats and veggie-filled pasta

During chef Gaccione’s visit, one of the students began to tear up a little when the chef revealed she was on Season 19 of Top Chef. She was in awe and shared that she also wants to be a chef when she’s older. At the end of the class, she shared a heartfelt hug with chef Gaccione, and they took selfies to savor the moment. This cohort has another three months of classes left. In their final week, the students will create a meal to share with friends and family before going on to six weeks of paid on-site learning experiences in food establishments. We can’t wait to see what exciting recipes, guest chef visits and networking opportunities are in store for our students in the coming months. More updates to come next month–stay tuned!