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June 13, 2012 -Glenholme News

Culinary Training Cooks Up Success for Young Adults of Glen Ridge


The sounds of slicing, sizzling and searing suddenly become distant with the Clap! Clap! “Keep up!”  It’s the Community Culinary School of  Northwest Connecticut (CCSNWCT) Chef Instructor, Blythe Roberts, his culinary students and the sounds of hustle and bustle in their fully operational kitchen-classroom. The excitement centered on the flames of the gas stove, while Chef, as his students call him, demonstrated how to cook up a tasty seafood feast as part of a lesson in preparation for the excitement and rigors of a dynamic career in the culinary world.

Among the vibrant group of 10 soon-to-be cooks and chefs are Rob and Sam of Glen Ridge, a supportive college and post-secondary transitioning program for young men and women with learning disabilities and Asperger’s.  For many individuals of GlenRidge, part-time or full-time employment is their primary post-secondary focus. Just minutes from GlenRidge, the career training program of CCSNWCT is an ideal stepping stone to a successful life of independence for these young men and the other participants of Glen Ridge who have a strong interest in the culinary industry.

Executive Director Dawn Hammacott and Chef Instructor Blythe Roberts of CCSNWCT provide hands-on instruction and detailed classroom work in an intense 12-week culinary-training program. In addition to kitchen and classroom work, students also spend one day a week for six weeks at an internship site and receive life skills training including job-readiness, applications, resume writing, interview skills, work ethic and teamwork, along with basic computer literacy and financial management. Through out the program, it was evident both Rob and Sam became more self-reliant, developed greater confidence in their abilities, and found tremendous personal satisfaction in their efforts.

As graduates of the culinary program in late-March 2012, Rob and Sam are now one step closer to their dreams. Their accomplishment comes with a program completion certificate and ServSafe Food Protection Manager Certification and they are also eligible for full-time area job placement assistance afforded by the Community Culinary Program to their graduates. Grateful for the valuable learning experience and enthusiastic about embarking on a bright future in the culinary field, both young men look to the promising employment prospects of the culinary industry.

Rob and Sam join the list of more than 100 graduates of the Community Culinary School since its inception nearly five years ago. The school also boasts an impressive 80% completion rate and a 95% job placement rate. Bolstering the possibilities of successful employment, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics recently noted the culinary career field is expected to grow through 2018.

GlenRidge strives to assist young adults with learning differences and Asperger’s achieve their learning goals and ability to live independent lives. The mission of Community Culinary School of Northwestern Connecticut complements this mission perfectly. In addition to providing a quality employment training program, CCSNWCT supports the community by assisting the underemployed with free-of-charge or reduced tuition to qualified students while helping to feed local families-in-need by regularly donating food prepared during sessions to area food banks.

“We have enjoyed working with Sam and Rob throughout the session and look forward to a mutually beneficial effort with future students from Glen Ridge,” said Dawn Hammacott. She also added, “We are an ideal fit for young men and women with true passion for the culinary arts, like Rob and Sam.”

Glen Ridge, an affiliate of The Glenholme School, provides a supportive college and post secondary transition program for young men and women with Asperger’s and various learning differences who seek advanced education or career development. Individuals have the opportunity to learn, practice and master skills essential for success in college, work environments and social settings. The program encourages and coaches autonomy in a safe, challenging and supportive setting. Glen Ridge is located near a variety of community colleges, universities and businesses in beautiful Western Connecticut.  For more information about Glen Ridge, visit

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