Whetting Students’ Career Appetites
ProStart program grooms Cape participants for culinary roles and competition
From the Holiday 2017 issue
On a busy Friday, as the clock ticks toward noon, chefs wearing crisp white coats and blousy hats work intently on stainless-steel counters equipped with white KitchenAid mixers. The cooks and their assistants assemble pizza bubble rings — essentially pepperoni-filled refrigerator biscuits baked in a Bundt pan and served with pizza sauce. While the cooks work, dishwashers clean up behind them. The smell of garlic cuts through the air.
“You always need to be busy doing something,” orders Jennifer Cornell, who is clearly in charge of this kitchen. “Coats on. Aprons on. Hands washed. Tables clean and sanitized.”
The kitchen is not in a restaurant, however. It was built for a culinary class at Cape Henlopen High School that follows ProStart, a nationwide program developed by the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation.
Founded in 2000 in response to a shortage of restaurant kitchen labor, ProStart helps students develop skills and build industry contacts. But there is a competitive element as well. Each year, participating schools can send two teams (culinary and management) to state competitions. Winners head to the National ProStart Invitational.
Recipe for Success
A chance meeting and great determination propelled Scott Kammerer’s rise in the restaurant business
Scott Kammerer and Matt Haley first met on the steps of Epworth United Methodist Church, which at the time was in Rehoboth Beach. Both men were heading to a meeting there of the local chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“Matt had just come to town,” Kammerer says. “I had never met him. But he looked at me and he said, ‘I’m going to start a restaurant empire. You want to join me?’”
Kammerer, then in his late 20s, told Haley he was already the general manager of a restaurant, Jake’s Seafood House in Rehoboth Beach. “OK,” Haley replied. “Then I’m going to come watch you.”
True to his word, Haley showed up soon after their conversation. “It was in the middle of July and we were really busy,”
Kammerer recalls. “We probably served 800 dinners that day. But he came and he hung out with me, and everywhere I went, he was there checking me out. He kept asking me questions and at the end of the day, he said that he thought that we should work together. ‘We could do really great things,’ he said.”
A Late-Blooming Family Tree
Barb Fishel knew she was adopted, but was shocked to learn she’d been abandoned at birth. What she discovered next was even more of a jolt.
Barb Fishel grew up having no idea of the circumstances of her birth or adoption. “You were given to us by the court,” her loving adoptive parents, Vernon and Geneva Fishel, had said. Barb’s heritage and ethnicity were a complete mystery.
“I always thought I might be Swedish — you know, blond hair, blue eyes and all,” says Barb, a full-time Rehoboth-area resident since 2006. “The first photo of me that exists is at 18 months old.”
She grew up in Oxford, Pa., the only child of her carpenter father and her mom, who worked as a clerk. When she was 10, the small family moved, to Newark, Del. At age 19, while Barb was getting her degree in education at the University of Delaware, her mother passed away; her father died only three years later.