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.