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HCC’s Line Cook Training Helps Kitchen Workers Land MGM Jobs

HOLYOKE — Annie Rosa signed up for the free Line Cook Training program at Holyoke Community College with a clear objective in mind — get a job working in one of the new restaurants opening soon at MGM Springfield.

The 38-year-old Springfield resident had worked in other restaurant kitchens, including Cracker Barrel, Cafe Lebanon, and Subway, but admits that most of her experience came from cooking for her family. She needed a professional boost. 

“I’m an MGM hopeful,” she said earlier this month, not long after starting daily classes at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute. Then, before the four-week training program concluded on June 29, Rosa accepted an offer to work as a pantry chef at the Chandler, MGM’s fine-dining steakhouse. She starts July 30.

“I’m no longer a hopeful. I’m part of the show,” she said. “I came here with a plan. I passed my ServSafe training and my TIPS training. I made new friends. I learned new things. And to work for MGM and have the possibility of growing my career with them — that was my ultimate goal. Overall, it was an awesome experience.”

So far, half the students in the program — four of the eight who completed the training — have been offered restaurant jobs with MGM.

Applications are now being accepted for the next round of Line Cook Training, which is free to experienced kitchen workers who want to take their culinary skills to a higher level.

“This is designed for professionals who have been out there for a while,” said HCC Culinary Arts instructor Warren Leigh. “Maybe they’re prep cooks, maybe they’re line cooks and they want to get better. They want to move up. That’s what we’re hoping to get in the next round also. That way we can push them to be better. We can make them better with their knife skills, really master sautéing, really master grilling — as best as we can in four weeks.”

Classes will run Monday through Friday, July 23 through Aug. 17, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute at 164 Race St., Holyoke. Class topics include moist and dry cooking methods, soups, stocks, sauces, knife skills, culinary math, and ServSafe and TIPS certifications. Students will also participate in résumé workshops and mock interviews.

The program is funded partly through a $50,000 grant HCC recently received as winner of the Deval Patrick Prize from the Boston Foundation for expanding its Culinary Arts program to help address workforce needs.

Applicants must have at least two years of experience working in the culinary industry. For more information or to register, call Ann Rocchi, job placement assistant, at (413) 552-2753, or Milissa Daniels, career development counselor, at (413) 552-2042.

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