Camillus House Culinary Training Program Endures the Pandemic | Miami New Times

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In order to help the homeless in Miami get rid of the street life and succeed, Camillus House and Miami Dade College established a culinary training program at Camillus House.

The training plan started in January 2018. By June of that year, three classes had completed the training. some

At the Mullins Stadium, the Biscayne Marriott Hotel, Levy’s Restaurant and Coral Gables’ Fiora.

By last year, the program had graduated seven classes (approximately 90 graduates in total), and its job position rate exceeded 70%.

Then there was a pandemic.

Camillus House CEO Hilda Fernandez fully understands that job placement will be more difficult and believes it is important to continue the program.

Fernandez explained: “Nothing makes me happier than seeing these students walking around the Camillus House campus with pride.” “Working in the kitchen requires strict discipline, which is very useful for these customers. ."

Teaching through the pandemic requires tremendous changes in the way programs operate.

The Hotel Academy of Miami-Dade College usually provides five days of training a week in a seven-week course. Students spend the morning in the classroom and in the afternoon in the kitchen.

COVID-19 has changed the way courses are handled. Currently, the Miami Culinary Institute at the Wolfson Campus in Miami-Dade provides one-day practical cooking training every week, and four-day cooking classes every day.

Despite the changes, cooking skills are still taught to students so that they can find jobs. Fernandez explained: "They learn to boneless chicken, make all the seasonings, understand the different pieces of beef and safe food handling methods, which is very important."

They also learned valuable lessons that can take them beyond the culinary world.

"We integrate life skills and employability skills into training because it is essential to succeed in life and find future employment," said Lauren Drosdowech, manager of the School of Hotel Management.

The program was a positive experience for the graduate Ryan Walsh.

"Hands-on at the Miami Culinary Institute is the highlight of the week. The facility is top-notch and it's an amazing experience," he said.

Because the catering industry is a highly competitive market, it provides unlimited employment opportunities, but without training or stable work experience, it is difficult for newcomers to have the opportunity to prove their worth. The Camillus program gives attendees an advantage in a highly competitive market.

Fernandez said: "Students obtain a certificate of completion and food safety certification from Miami-Dade College, which puts them in a more favorable employment position."

Furthermore, graduates can apply their certificates to employee certificates.

At Miami-Dade College. Shelly Fano, director of the hotel management department of the college, said: “We provide assistance with degree programs for any students who wish to continue their studies.”


The graduation ceremony of the 2020 fall class is almost held in late October. Although there were no hugs or five-finger gloves from relatives, the faculty and staff of the Hotel Management School were proud of the whole ceremony. Although the future is uncertain, there is still a sense of accomplishment.

Fernandez said: "It's a great partnership with Miami-Dade College."

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