Delaware North at Shenandoah National Park in Virginia recently formed a partnership to create opportunities for local high school students.
Delaware North’s human resources manager at Shenandoah National Park, Paul Johnson, recognized a shortage of qualified cooks for lodging properties Skyland and Big Meadows Lodge. Delaware North responded to the need by funding supplies and providing chefs to teach a course to students at Luray and Page County High Schools.
“I knew the schools had been trying to get a culinary program off the ground for many years,” Johnson said. “This program with Delaware North has the potential to lead to full-time employment and scholarship opportunities.”
Johnson patterned the program after the National Restaurant Association’s “ProStart” program. Students in the Delaware North program will learn from a Delaware North chef from January to March. From April to June, students will complete a paid internship to work in a kitchen at Shenandoah National Park. And from graduation forward, students will begin their full-time careers, with transportation provided, as cooks for Delaware North.
The program began last month, with Chef William Taylor from Big Meadows Lodge and Chef Jeff Wasnesky from Skyland leading the training. There are currently 12 students enrolled in the program.
“For Delaware North, the program is a chance to give back to the community and train entry-level cooks,” Johnson said. “For the students, it is an opportunity to learn a skill and gain employment that could ultimately lead to a future career.”