Resources for Change Fair to be Held at NECAT on March 11th

NECAT Celebrates Graduation of 60th Cohort

NECAT celebrated the graduation of the 60th cohort today. The auditorium was filled with the friends and family of the graduates, and special guest Josh Kraft gave the keynote address. Graduation capped off a week of celebration for Cohort 60, which included their Capstone luncheon and NECAT’s Rolling Pin Ceremony, where the graduates pass the rolling pin and share advice and words of wisdom with the next rising cohort. Congratulations to all the graduates of Cohort 60!

J-D Garcia Named New NECAT Executive Director

NECAT is pleased to announce that John-David (J-D) Garcia has been named its next Executive Director after an extensive search process. Garcia joins NECAT with more than 20years of non-profit leadership experience in developing and managing workforce development programs on a local and national level. J-D will oversee all aspects of NECAT’s culinary arts job training and placement program at three locations – NECAT’s Boston Training Center, Behind the Walls at Suffolk County House of Correction and the East Boston YMCA (taught in Spanish). Garcia will work closely with outgoing Executive Director, Joey Cuzzi, to ensure a seamless transition. 

“I am grateful to NECAT’s Founder and President, Maarten Hemsley, members of the board, and the talented NECAT staff for placing their faith in me,” Garcia said. “I have the utmost respect and admiration for the work Joey Cuzzi and the team at NECAT have been doing and I’m excited to work with the adults in our program to help them move forward in their lives and achieve their personal vision of success.” 

Garcia has more than 20 years of experience in nonprofit management, job training and community organizing.  

Most recently, J-D served as Director, Career Pathways at YouthBuild USA, where he spearheaded the planning and execution of the national career pathways strategy and team to support 200+ YouthBuild program affiliates and Department of Labor grantees to implement workforce development programs for youth ages 16-24. Prior to joining YouthBuild USA, Garcia served as Director of Job Training and Vocational Services at Morgan Memorial Goodwill Industries.  

Garcia earned a BA in Sociology from the College of the Holy Cross and a Master’s Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Suffolk University. Garcia and his family reside in Roxbury.

“J-D is the perfect leader for NECAT as we enter our second decade in workforce development,” said NECAT Founder and President, Maarten Hemsley. “NECAT is constantly evolving to meet the needs of our participants and the culinary industry, and J-D’s experience creating workforce development best practices and building strategic partnerships, combined with his service-focused attitude and strong community relationships, will help ensure that NECAT continues to fulfill its mission and empower graduates to achieve success.”

Best of NECAT Celebrates Ten Years of Transforming Lives

When Maarten Hemsley opened the doors to NECAT in 2013, he knew NECAT’s mission would help people transform their life, build a career and make their dreams come true. Thank you to our Best of NECAT sponsors, our guest speakers, students, alumni, staff, Chefs Irene Li and Kevin O’Donnell and everyone who joined us to celebrate NECAT’s 10th anniversary. Cheers to removing barriers, opening doors and the next ten years!

Charting a Course for the Future: The search for NECAT’s new Executive Director

NECAT’s Executive Director Josephine (Joey) Cuzzi is retiring at the end of 2023, and we are seeking a visionary leader to continue in her footsteps and help shape our future direction. We have engaged Positively Partners to lead the search for a new ED.

The ideal candidate will have a passion for social justice and a track record of generating diverse financial support
for ambitious, innovative programming. A background in workforce development is an advantage. Responsibilities
include directing program strategy, generating revenue and building community partnerships in support of NECAT
students on their path to self-sufficiency.

If you know someone who may be interested, the link to the job description and application is here. Or you can
refer them to

NECAT Hosts Bubbles & Beats

On August 17th, young professionals gathered at NECAT for Bubbles and Beats, a celebration of the amazing talents of our chefs, students and alumni. Guests were treated to a feast for the eyes and the palette, sampling delicacies like foie gras butter burger, mini ube cheesecake, savory cannoli and a show-stopping croquembouche with a matcha mirror glaze. Chef Chris demo’d his recipe for truffled mac and cheese and DJ Gurdy provided the music. Thanks to everyone who joined us for Bubbles & Beats, and special thanks to our sponsors, 90+ Cellars, for supplying the bubbly beverages!

NECAT’s 2022 Annual Report

NECAT is pleased to present its 2022 Annual Report! Please take a few moments to learn about the programs that have made us a leader in culinary training in Boston, and the people who are flourishing given the opportunities provided by NECAT.

We are proud of our successes, as you should be. Your support helps make NECAT possible. For best reading, click the full screen icon.


Click here for NECAT’s 2022 Annual Report

Take a Chance on Taylor and you and NECAT can win big!

Thank you for your interest in NECAT’s Taylor Swift ticket raffle. The raffle closed on 4/3/23.

First Cohort of Spanish and English Culinary Arts Training Program Graduates in East Boston

Today the first cohort of New England Culinary Arts Training (NECAT) East
Boston’s program, taught in both Spanish and English, graduated with their certificates
in culinary arts launching them into careers in professional kitchens.

“The culinary industry is booming and people with professional culinary skills are in
high-demand,” said NECAT Executive Director Joey Cuzzi. “Language should not be a
barrier to those who wish to participate in culinary job training. Through our partnership
with the YMCA in East Boston, we are able to bring NECAT’s program to the community
and help graduates connect with well-paying jobs through our network of employer partners.”

Despite the on-going pandemic fluctuations affecting the food services industry, the
weekly number of Prep Cook and Line Cook vacancies in East Boston alone (including
airline and airport food service companies, hotels, and local restaurants) continues to be
an active market. The need for qualified cooks has become ever more urgent.
NECAT empowers adults facing barriers to employment through training in culinary
skills, social-emotional development and career readiness for success and long-term financial stability.

“I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” said graduate Vanessa Salvana. “I spent a year
in culinary school in Peru but was not able to complete the program. When I saw the ad
for the NECAT program at the Y, I was so happy. The hospitality industry is growing
fast, and this program taught us professional skills and techniques that will help open doors.”

Former NECAT graduate, Chef David Spear, teaches the classes in East Boston and brings a unique perspective as a NECAT graduate, a successful chef and a professional educator fluent in Spanish.

“After graduating from NECAT’s culinary program in 2017, I worked my way up to an executive chef position,” said Spear. “The relationships I built at NECAT are very important to me, and I’ve always stayed in contact with NECAT. After working as a Chef Instructor for the previous year at the Pine Street Inn, then joining NECAT as a Bilingual Chef Instructor. I’m so lucky to be a part of the team and have the chance to inspire students the way I was inspired. These students have been phenomenal to work with.”

“We are very proud of the graduates who have worked so hard in this 12-week program,” said James Morton, President, and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Boston. “We are especially proud to partner, for the first time, with NECAT to provide students with a pathway to stable, long-term culinary employment, while supporting graduates on their path toward economic self-sufficiency.”

Historical, persistent, and overt discriminatory policies and institutions have created communities of color in Boston where people have been disempowered and destabilized through lack of access to opportunities and resources.

The East Boston program is funded by the YMCA of Greater Boston with special support from Cargo Ventures in East Boston. The YMCA intends to continue partnering with NECAT.