Alumni Newsletter

Keeping our Alumni informed of Atlantic Cape activities

Dearth of Chefs, Cooks Benefits Culinary Grads

“Help Wanted. Desperately.”

Those words seem to be a mantra among independent, chain and casino restaurateurs up and down the Jersey Shore these days.

Cases in point:

  • The Lyons Group, a Boston-based restaurant group, is scouring the East Coast for 100 new cooks and chefs to staff three new restaurants in Atlantic City.
  • The Borgata is looking to hire about 260 chefs and cooks for its three new restaurants.

And with 30 new fine-dining establishments expected to open in casinos, the shortage of kitchen personnel is becoming critical. According to one Philadelphia consultant to the hospitality industry, the growth in new restaurants is a national phenomenon.

ACA students

The outlook is bright for ACA students. With the addition of dozens of new restaurants in Atlantic City, recent graduates receive three or more job offers each.

That's good news for students at ACCC's Academy of Culinary Arts. Kelly McClay, assistant director, said each of the nearly 60 students who graduated in May had at least three job offers.

Michael F. Balles, 20, of Egg Harbor Township, had four firm job offers, two from top tier casinos, two from regional country clubs. In each case, pay is in the mid-$30s. “That’s pretty good for a guy just coming out of college,” he said.

Christopher Spera, 22, of Bayville, said he has had several offers but is leaving the state after graduation and thus hasn’t been aggressive in seeking out jobs in New Jersey. He has, however, been encouraged by interest shown by the Atlantic City office of a well known hotel chain for a job elsewhere.

According to McClay, casinos usually attend the academy’s spring career fairs, but since last fall, demand for individual recruitment visits has burgeoned. The interest in hiring ACA graduates reflects the value of the academy’s degrees, associate in applied science in culinary arts, baking and pastry, or food service management.

“The first year I was here, recruiters came on a hit or miss basis, now they’re here two or three times a week,” Balles said.

According to a recent report, an assistant chef from the two-year program at ACCC’s culinary school can expect to start at a casino earning from $30,000-$35,000 while vocational school graduates start at about $23,000.