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The Culinary Arts Institute of Montgomery County Community College recently honored its first group of graduates since it opened in 2013. Back row, from left: Chef Tom Kreag, Tonya Moye, Marla Feder, Mallory Durrick, Liz Bevington, Chef Stephen Latona and Paul Becker. Front row, from left, Culinary Resource Specialist Cheryl Ann Niedzwiecki, Linda Ritz-Cioci, Hannah Irvin, Traci Zammetti, and CAI Director Chef Francine Marz. Photo by Sandi Yanisko.

The Culinary Arts Institute (CAI) of Montgomery County Community College recently honored the first graduates of the Culinary program since the College opened its new 15,000-square-foot facility in Lansdale in 2013.

The graduates include:  Jessica Apeldorn, Ardsley; Paul Becker, Abington; Liz Bevington, Hatfield; Mallory Durrick, North Wales; Marla Feder, Eagleville; Hannah Irvin, Pottstown; Tonya Moye, Harleysville; Linda Ritz-Cioci, Hatboro; Jackie Williams, Harleysville; Traci Ann Zammetti, Pottstown; and Laura Dougherty, Glenside .

“I am proud of you, your hard work and dedication to achieve your goals,” CAI Director Chef Francine Marz said, as she took a few moments to share words of congratulations and advice. “Continue to follow your passion, network with other professionals and look for opportunities. Remember what you learned here and use those skills to learn more.”

The graduates received their degrees and certificates during MCCC’s 48th Commencement ceremony on May 21 at Central Campus in Blue Bell. Several graduates have already started the next part of their journeys.

For 19-year-old Hannah Irvin, her associate’s degree in Baking and Pastry Arts takes her to Sandusky, Ohio, where she is working on the catering team at the top-rated Cedar Point Amusement Park.

“I absolutely loved the Culinary Arts Institute,” she said. “Everyone was so close and friendly. Now, I am leaving with a degree, great friends and wonderful mentors.”

Liz Bevington, 22, also described the CAI chefs as her mentors. “They taught me that it’s not just about cooking, but about your attitude and passion,” said Bevington, who is working full-time at El Poquito, a Mexican restaurant in Chestnut Hill.

Marla Feder, who earned certificates in Culinary and Baking & Pastry, plans to teach culinary classes. “The best decision I ever made was to come to CAI—I am living my dream,” she said.

Similarly, Traci Ann Zammetti is following her dream by starting her own business as a personal chef, “Food by TAZ.”  She created her own website, http://www.foodbytaz, and is growing her customer base.

“We are proud of all of our students and their accomplishments, but we wanted to recognize this first group, many of whom participated in our grand opening, followed by the opening of our student-operated retail bakery, Forty Foot Café, and our restaurant, Bistro 1400, as well as numerous community activities and events,” Chef Marz said. “Some of the graduates, like Marla, participated in our first annual Iron Chef Competition. It’s been an exciting time and we’re looking forward to welcoming our new students this fall.”

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