Culinary Program Seeks to Help Students Get Jobs, Pay Down Debts

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For job seekers interested in pursuing a career in the restaurant industry, a new program has been launched to help students who graduate from culinary school pay their loans and find work.

Educators and culinary innovators Jose Andres and Dorothy Cain Hamilton recently announced the formation of the Culinary Coalition, which will help bridge the gap between open job opportunities in the field and the nation’s unemployed applicants who have a culinary degree on their resume, regardless of loan status or school attended.

One topic that continues to come up over and over is the difficulty in finding skilled professionals for our restaurants, said Jose Andres, a James Beard Award-winning chef. “I know the jobs are there – it is simply a matter of making sure the students are well-prepared.“As we roll out our initiative, we welcome the participation of any business or organization interested in proactive efforts focused on helping graduates of any culinary institution to achieve their dreams.”

Initially, the initiative will operate at no added cost to 100 eligible graduates in the New York, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, Miami, San Francisco and Los Angeles areas. Additional openings and locations are expected to be announced over the next 2 months.

The program will also allow graduates to add supplemental classes to their resumes in order to find high-paying jobs, as well as personalized supervision in continuing education or on-the-job-training.

What we want to do is empower people, to allow them to regain control of their lives and their careers so that they will find work, be able to pay back their loans, and have the lives they dreamed of when they started culinary school, Hamilton added.

Meanwhile, the National Restaurant Association has predicted the industry will experience one of its best years in recent history, with sales expected to reach a record high of $632 billion in 2012.

As our nation slowly recovers from the economic downturn, restaurants continue to be a vital part of American lifestyles and our nation’s economy, said Dawn Sweeney, president and chief executive officer of the NRA. “It’s clear that the restaurant industry is once again proving to be a significant economic stimulant and strong engine for job creation.”

The overall industry is expected to gain back all of the jobs lost during the economic downturn this year, adding positions at an annual 2.3 percentage rate  – which is a full point about the projected national average.

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