Getting a Helping Hand From Encore

Shortly after the mid-March shutdown, when so many companies were looking inward, the team at Encore Boston Harbor wanted to know how they could help. 

NECAT was working quickly and creatively to transition our training to virtual platforms and ensure that our students remained engaged in learning. The offer from Encore came at the perfect moment. 

Encore’s Executive Sous Chef Russell Parker volunteered to create instructional videos in his home kitchen that taught in-demand skills to help prepare our students for employment. Not only did he script and storyboard them, but he had to learn the basics of videography—lighting, camera angles, editing—himself. While he instructed, his wife handled the camera. “We had a great time making these!” he told us. 

If you like to cook, you’ll find these two videos very instructive:

“I’m always happy to support NECAT,” says Chef Russell who has helped with fundraisers and student demos at NECAT on multiple occasions over the past two years. “I’m really impressed with the team. I love the fact that NECAT teaches the real stuff – and not just fluff, like at some culinary schools. I know you prepare your students for what it’s really going to be like out there in a professional, working kitchen.”

Encore has been an exemplary employer during the crisis. In the face of a tidal wave of layoffs in the hospitality industry, they continued to pay their 400+ person culinary staff – of whom 21 are NECAT graduates – between March 15th and May 31st.

When asked about their experiences with Encore, our grads been effusive in their praise: 

“They’re being really generous, extending our pay each month that the casino is closed.”

“Our chefs are in touch with us. They’re giving us regular updates on the sanitation standards and safety procedures that will be put in place for re-opening.”

“There’s not much more you can ask for during this crisis!”

Chef Parker concurs, “I’m very proud to be working for Encore and Wynn right now. There’s always talk about doing the right thing and right now their money really is going where their mouth is.”  Parker stays in close contact with his entire staff, speaking with them twice a week to see how they’re doing and to update them on reopening plans. “We’ve been working hard to make sure there’s a solid plan in place so things are safe for everyone—staff and guests,” he says.

“We’re lucky to have such a great partner like Encore,” says NECAT Executive Director, Joey Cuzzi. “They’ve really stepped up during this public health crisis, looking out for their employees, which include so many of our graduates. We look forward to continuing this partnership; helping them fill any losses in culinary positions due to the closure with our skilled trainees.”