Bay Area vocational programs in demand

September 19, 2008 7:17:30 PM PDT
It can be tough to find work in today's unpredictable economy, but, a number of college students in the east Bay Are cooking up their own jobs, thanks to a culinary arts program at Contra Costa College.

On any given weekday morning, there are about 100 students jammed into a learning kitchen cooking, slicing, blending and learning the traits of the business.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association says the demand for cooks in the Bay Area is still high.

"The job market is wide open because most of the restaurateurs are looking for an educated chef and cooks," said Nader Sharkes from the Culinary Arts Department.

"I've gotten numerous job offers, it's just hard for me to pick one, one that will improve my skills," said student David Yulp.

The culinary arts program at Contra Costa College in San Pablo has outgrown the space.

The culinary arts program is very much in demand -- so much so, that this year they had to turn students away and there is a waiting list for next semester.

For many the program makes economic sense. The price per unit is $20, which ends up costing students about $1,000 for the two-year program.

Every year, the college has a food and wine fundraiser to send four students to Florence to train with Italian chefs. Kimberly Hernandez is one of them.

"To have that on your resume, to say that you've been to Italy and studied there and have the certificate will make a tremendous difference when trying to get a job," said Hernandez.

But while the demand for chefs may be high, the starting salaries are not.

"I would say in the $35,000. That's really the going price for anyone in the Bay Area. Then it gets into the $50,000 range. I know chefs making $200,000 a year," said Sharkes.

"If you put in the work, you will get the pay off, it's what you put into it is what you get out of it," said student Rosalynn McKinney.

ABC7 News learned about this from an ABC7 Listens Meeting. Join us for the next meeting in El Cerrito.

Tuesday, September 23 at 7:30 p.m.
El Cerrito Community Center

7007 Moeser Lane

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  • Contra Costa College culinary arts program


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