Alumni Newsletter

Keeping our Alumni informed of Atlantic Cape activities

Former ACA Student Wins Jersey Seafood Challenge

Twelve chefs from across the state gathered at ACCC’s Academy of Culinary Arts Jan. 15 for the chance to be crowned New Jersey’s top seafood chef. After a full day of competition, Chef Peter Fischbach, a former ACA student, was judged winner. He will compete in August at the Great American Seafood Cook-off in New Orleans, which will be televised on the Food Network.

Peter Fischbach

Peter Fischbach receives his award from Department of Agriculture Secretary Charles Kuperus and ACCC President Peter L. Mora.

Fischbach attended the Academy from 1996-97 and is executive chef and food service director for Gourmet Dining Services at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in Newark. He prepared Pan-Seared Local Black Bass and Nona’s Friday Night Fish Feast. After hearing the results, Fischbach, of Elizabeth, said, “I will do my best to showcase all the wonderful seafood and produce that come from New Jersey and hopefully bring home the gold” in New Orleans.

Jahvin Carlough

Jahvin Carlough.

Jahvin Carlough, ’03 ACA and sous chef at JP Prime in Wildwood, finished second. “I was nervous. This was my first competition,” said Carlough of Cape May Court House. He said he over-compensated by bringing extra supplies. “I was very meticulous about what I did. I was stunned when I was announced second place winner.” He prepared Carrot Ginger Mahi-Mahi and Jersey Seafood and Fennel Broth.

Third place went to Vineland resident Michael Inferrera, an ACA student who earned the right to compete in the state competition after winning a student contest in November. He prepared Jersey Cioppino and Black Bass con Prosciutto. Inferrera is a sous chef at Caesars Atlantic City.

Michael Inferrera plates his Jersey Cioppino

Michael Inferrera plates his Jersey Cioppino.

"It's very exciting that the top three finishers in the competition received training at the Academy. It's certainly a testament to both the quality of our students and the education we offer," said Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the ACA.

Each chef had two hours to prepare a “Down the Shore Platter” and a “Signature Dish” focusing on Jersey seafood. The chefs were judged on their work and technique in the kitchen, as well as the presentation and taste of their final dishes.

Among the seven judges were Klaus Muller, retired dean of the Academy; Jennifer Whittle, ’02 ACA, executive sous chef at Manasquan River Golf Club; and Michael Williams, ’92 ACA, executive restaurant chef and culinary recruitment director for Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The event was organized by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture.

Carême’s Reopens for Lunch; Special Price Available through Feb. 11

Carême’s, the student-run gourmet restaurant at the Academy of Culinary Arts, is now open for lunch and is offering a discounted price of $10.95 for its signature lunch buffet through Feb. 11.


The buffet features an array of fruits and cheeses, chilled gourmet salads, seasonal soups, hot entrees, vegetables, potatoes and an assortment of homemade pastries.

Carême’s is open Monday-Friday, when classes are in session. Guests are seated for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to noon. Tax and gratuity are not included in the special price. For reservations, call (609) 343-4940. This offer cannot be combined with other discounts. Additionally, the restaurant opens for dinner beginning Feb. 14.

Tickets on Sale for April 3 Restaurant Gala

The 25th Anniversary Press of Atlantic City Restaurant Gala, Reflections: The Gala Turns 25, is scheduled for Thursday, April 3, at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

The annual black-tie event celebrates food by featuring hors d’oeuvres prepared by students at the Academy of Culinary Arts and showcasing the specialties of 40 of the area’s best restaurants at a progressive dining experience. More than 1,000 community leaders, business people, casino executives and food lovers attended the 2007 event. Live music by the Melanie Rice Orchestra and an elegant dessert reception will complete the night’s events. Attendees will also have the opportunity to win Tiffany jewelry through the Tiffany & Co.’s Keys for a Cause promotion.

Restaurant Gala

The event, which is presented by Commerce Bank, has raised more than $1.6 million for student scholarships at the Academy since 1984.

Tickets to the Gala cost $200 per person and can be ordered by calling (609) 343-5674 or online at

In addition to food and entertainment, the winning tickets of the Restaurant Gala 50/50 Raffle will be drawn at the event. Prizes include up to $15,000 first prize, $7,500 second prize and $2,500 third prize. Proceeds benefit student scholarships at ACCC.

Only 500 raffle tickets will be sold at $100 each. Winning dollar amounts are based on all 500 tickets being sold. Winners need not be present to win. For 50/50 Gala Raffle tickets, call (609) 343-5674 or online at

Alumni Updates

Tony Primavera ’07 ACA is chef at Bella Mangiata Ristorante in Villas. He received credit for implementing a delicious new menu for the restaurant in an article in The Press of Atlantic City.

Nursing grad Theodore J. Emmons ’06, who now works at Shore Memorial Hospital’s Oncology Unit, received a Guardian Angel Award pin for patient satisfaction and care. This award was given to him and 10 other health care providers at Shore Memorial and other hospitals.

Alumni updates

Patricia Nash ’97 ACA is executive pastry chef at MotorCity Casino Hotel in Detroit. In her new role, Nash is responsible for all baked goods, desserts, ice creams and candies created for the casino-hotel’s fine dining restaurant, casual dining outlets, banquets and room service.

Ann and Mark Rowand, both ’95 ACA graduates, have opened Emerald Fish in Cherry Hill and were featured in the Courier-Post.

Master Plan Charts Exciting Future for Mays Landing Campus

After unveiling Blueprint 2020: Building a Better Future for ACCC, the college’s board of trustees has identified priorities of the master plan. The top projects, all on the Mays Landing Campus, include construction of a science and technology building and related renovations to vacated structures; construction of a student center; and development of a new entranceway and loop road on the campus.

The college completed a yearlong study with Kimball and Associates in 2007 to develop the plan. The resulting document included a far-reaching vision of what could take place on the Mays Landing Campus through 2020. It took stock of the current buildings and land, potential development uses and adjacent and nearby properties for possible acquisition. It outlined new enhancements and income-generating projects, including a career/conference center and a university center where four-year colleges offering degree completion programs would be housed.

In 2007-2008, to jumpstart the process while funding sources are identified, the college is exploring infrastructure issues and hiring a company to explore which permits might be required by the N.J. Pinelands Commission for upcoming projects.

Alumni Compete in Archery Shoot

More than 20 alumni returned for ACCC’s second annual alumni archery shoot Jan. 19-20. The competition was held in conjunction with the Double FITA I Archery Tournament.

Archers who trained with coach Dr. Helen Bolnick from many different years participated. ACCC’s archery team has a long legacy of success, including 36 All Americans. ACCC’s men’s archery team won a national title at the United States Intercollegiate Archery Championships in May 2006 in Los Angeles.

ACCC will host this year’s intercollegiate championship in May at its Mays Landing Campus. Please check the Web site,, for details as the event approaches.

Café Series Announces Three Exciting Performances

The next installments of ACCC’s popular Careme’s Café Series will feature three exciting artists.

The season begins on Feb. 21 with Philadelphia singer, songwriter and guitarist Mutlu, who was the subject of an exclusive live video taping for Rolling Stone, Rhapsody and Visa as part of the Blue Note Jazz Series.

Carsie Blanton

Carsie Blanto

On March 27, the café welcomes superlatively witty singer/songwriter Carsie Blanton. Since her move from Oregon to Philadelphia in fall 2006, Carsie has shared the stage with such nationally and regionally hailed acts as Amos Lee, Jeffrey Gaines, Leon Redbone and Joan Armatrading.

The series finale on May 8 will feature Rex Fowler, one half of the legendary folk duo Aztec Two-Step. They have appeared in concert with such superstars as Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Bette Midler and many others. Fowler is also a well-regarded solo artist in his own right, with three solo discs under his belt.

The Careme’s Café Series features an evening of delightful performances by respected acoustic artists, and includes a four-course gourmet dinner prepared by advanced students enrolled in ACCC’s Academy of Culinary Arts.

Dinner is at 6:30 p.m.; shows are at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are $35 and can be ordered at (609) 343-4907 or via e-mail at Reservations are required. Tickets are available for the March 27 and May 8 shows; names are being added to a waiting list for the Feb. 21 performance.

Two Academy of Culinary Arts Grads Not the Retiring Types

Tony Cekada and Bob Quirk, who completed two years of training at the Academy of Culinary Arts in December, are not your typical college kids.

That’s because they’re not kids. Somers Point resident Cekada, 59, is a former casino executive. Quirk, 55, who hails from Petersburg, is a retired undercover Philly cop. Yet, as “non-traditional” students, they have brought a youthful sense of exuberance to their mid-life journey along a new career path.

Tony Cekada and Bob Quirk

Tony Cekada and Bob Quirk

It all began when Cekada, who had been director of casino credit at Bally’s Park Place, got laid off in 2005 following the sale of the casino to Harrah’s. Quirk, meanwhile, had retired from the Philadelphia Police Force and was nursing a serious injury suffered on the job. But rather than drifting off into retirement and spending their days fishing or playing golf, they each decided to pursue new careers in the culinary field.

“I was stuck in a wheelchair and on crutches for two and a half years,” Quirk recalled. “My wife (Lori) asked me what I wanted to do. She said, ‘Come on…I know what you want to do!’ I had always cooked.”

Cekada, who previously worked as a bartender and waiter at the old Zaberer’s restaurant in McKee City, shared this passion. “I was always fascinated by the food end of that industry,” he said.

Once classes began, the two became fast friends.

“We hooked up because those around us were young adults,” Cekada explained.

“We have similar values,” Quirk added. “We’re more focused and know what we want.”

The two have the utmost respect for the faculty and curricula at ACA. “I’d put this school up against any other,” Quirk said. “At this school, I have had nothing but excellent teachers.”

And they have had many memorable experiences.

Among the highlights were their receipt of a gold medal for a saltiage centerpiece at New York’s prestigious annual Salon of Culinary Art in 2006, and an educational trip to France in June, along with Chef Educator George Richert and other ACA students and faculty.

Their instructors say they were excellent, highly enthusiastic students.

“I call them the ‘Dream Team,’” said Chef Educator Linda Wohlman, who taught the pair in her hot foods class. “They worked every event they could, they were involved with everything…they have ‘can do’ attitudes. Not many of us in the middle of our lives can change what we do. They just ran with it. They are a pleasure.”

Cekada and Quirk plan to explore the possibility of going into business together. For now, they are considering opening a small catering business specializing in affordable comfort foods for busy families.

No matter what they do, you can bet it won’t be half-baked.

“I can’t just sit home and watch ‘The Lucy Show,’” Quirk deadpanned. “I’d rather be working. I enjoy doing the cooking; I’ve always cooked. Besides, my wife wouldn’t allow that.”

Annual Appeal Aids ACCC Students

ACCC alumni will have the opportunity to assist current students facing financial difficulties by making a contribution to the annual alumni appeal. All donations will support student scholarships, grants-in-aid or emergency help for ACCC students.

Every year more than 50 percent of ACCC students apply for financial aid so they can afford to start or continue their education. Additionally, more than 80 percent of ACCC students work full or part time to pay for their tuition, fees and textbooks. This year, the demand for aid is even greater, as enrollment at ACCC has reached an all-time high.

In the coming weeks you will receive a letter asking for your contribution. Please consider making a donation.

For information on how to make a donation, call (609) 463-4501 or e-mail

New Scholarship Honors Late ACA Graduate, Benefit Planned

A new scholarship established in memory of Nathan Allen, ’03 ACA, will honor the Cape May County resident. Allen died in a car accident in February 2006 at age 22. In addition to the endowed scholarship, Allen’s family is planning a benefit Feb. 23.

Allen loved nature, adventure, sports and cooking. “When he was not off on a snowboarding trip, going on a spontaneous road trip, playing or practicing golf, he could be found whipping up a nice meal for his friends,” said Allen’s sister, Alyssa Allen.

He worked at the former Ocean Drive Seafood and Oyster Bay in Cape May.

This year’s “Night for Nate” benefit will be Saturday, Feb. 23, at the Avalon Golf Club in Cape May Court House. Proceeds will benefit the scholarship fund. The event begins at 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Contact Alyssa Allen at or (609) 529-7645.

The first scholarship award will be given to an ACA student in May. For more information on scholarships, visit

ACCC Presents ‘Dear America,’ Free Play March 9

“Dear America,” a live play presented by ACCC, in conjunction with the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, will offer two free performances for children grades K-8 and their families on Sunday, March 9.

The play will be staged at the Middle Township Performing Arts Center in Cape May Court House at noon and at the Walter Edge Theater on ACCC’s Mays Landing Campus at 4 p.m.

Dear America

“Dear America” will be performed by the well known Pushcart Players Inc. Repertory Theatre for Children. The performance is a high-spirited, fast paced musical journey that explores ethnic roots and promotes the value of multi-culturalism in the United States.

Performances are free, but reservations are necessary.

To make a reservation for the Mays Landing Campus performance, call (609) 343-4826, or visit ACCC’s Web site at To make a reservation for the Cape May County performance, call the performing arts center, (609) 463-1924.

Explore All-American Cooking with Academy Workshop Series

Take a culinary trip across the country, without leaving South Jersey, as the Academy of Culinary Arts presents the Regional American Cooking Series.

  • Head for Mardi Gras country Feb. 12 with Cajun/Creole fare, where you’ll learn how to whip up such Big Easy treats as gumbos and beignets.
  • On Feb. 26, savor fresh seafood such as oyster stew and indigenous delights like Eskimo ice cream with sourdough pancakes as the series moves to Pacific Northwestern cuisine.
  • Learn about Mexican-inspired Southwestern favorites on March 11, which will include tips on how to prepare chile rellenos, Sante Fe posole and more.
  • The March 25 series finale travels to the Midwest, with a focus on runzas (stuffed dough sandwiches popular in Nebraska) to the chicken in cider and lemon pie enjoyed by those who practiced the Shaker faith.

The classes meet 6-9 p.m. on Tuesdays in the Academy’s kitchens on the Mays Landing Campus, 5100 Black Horse Pike. Cost of each class is $65. All workshops are taught by professional chef educators. To register, call (609) 343-4829, or visit

Veteran Broadcaster Teaching Communication Classes

Well-known Philadelphia TV news reporter and anchor Dick Sheeran is teaching media-related classes this spring at ACCC through the new Beacons by the Sea Visiting Professor program. The initiative is funded by the ACCC Foundation and the Beacons lighthouse project.

Sheeran is the first visiting professor and teaches two classes, will provide faculty development and speak to chamber groups in Atlantic and Cape May counties.

While he has served as a reporter and editor for a variety of media, including newspapers and radio, he is best known for his 30-year stint as news reporter and anchor for KYW-TV (CBS), Philadelphia. During his distinguished career, Sheeran covered such ground-breaking stories as the approval of Atlantic City casino gaming, the Pope John Paul II visit to Philadelphia in 1979, the funeral of Princess Grace of Monaco and 36 consecutive Miss America pageants.

Tasty Workshops on Tap at ACA

The Academy of Culinary Arts is featuring a variety of fun classes through the continuing education program this spring, including:

  • What About Duck?, Wednesday, Feb. 20, will cover the many options for preparing this delectable bird.
  • Take a journey through the wonderful world of cheese on Wednesday, April 9, with Better Than Cheddar, which will focus on exotic cheeses from around the world, how to display them and the best condiments with which to pair them.
  • Learn how to prepare classic Italian dishes, from meatballs to braciole, with American Italian Cooking on Thursday, April 24.
  • Discover the exotic world of curries—the mild to the fiery, from Vietnam to Vindaloo—with Understanding Curries on Thursday, April 29.
  • Whip up variations of the American classic with 101 Ways to Make Grilled Cheese on Monday, May 5.
  • Get Back to Basics on Monday, May 19, with a class that will focus on organic foods, the green movement and healthy eating alternatives.

All workshops take place 6-9 p.m. in the Academy’s kitchens on the Mays Landing Campus. Each class costs $60 per person, with the exception of Getting Back to Basics, which is $50. The Academy’s professional chefs teach all workshops.

To register, call (609) 343-4829, or visit

Fun Personal Enrichment Classes Scheduled for Spring

Learn a new skill or explore your creativity with a variety of personal enrichment continuing education classes offered at ACCC.

Create vibrant chalk pastel drawings in the Pastel Techniques class on Saturday, Feb. 2. Tickle the ivories while learning how to play notes and chords in Beginning Piano, five Wednesdays beginning Feb. 6. Restore the body, mind and spirit with Yoga, also taking place five Wednesdays beginning Feb. 6. Learn all about high-tech picture taking with Exploring Digital Photography, six Thursdays beginning Feb. 6.

In addition, the college will feature a variety of language classes: Mandarin Chinese, eight Thursdays beginning Feb. 7; Beginning Spanish: A Conversational Approach, eight Mondays beginning Feb. 11; Conversational Italian, eight Wednesdays beginning Feb. 13; and Sign Language, eight Thursdays beginning Feb. 28.

The classes are offered at different ACCC locations. To register, call (609) 343-4829, 625-1111 or 463-4774, ext. 4829, in Cape May County. Additional information is available at

Academy Students Earn Eight Medals at Prestigious NY Food Show

The Academy of Culinary Arts pastry centerpiece team earned four gold and four silver medals at New York City’s annual “Salon of Culinary Art.” Each piece the ACA entered in the competition won a medal.

Chocolate Limoges tea set

Chocolate Limoges tea set.

Held Nov. 11-12 at the 92nd International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City, the Salon featured breathtaking creations of master chefs, pastry chefs and culinarians from around the world competing in an array of categories. Known as the world’s largest freelance culinary arts exhibit and considered the most prestigious competition on the East Coast, the show is organized annually by the Société Culinaire Philanthropique.

The ACA student team created exquisitely detailed edible centerpieces from chocolate, marzipan and fondant replicating the works of famous art masters under the direction of Chef Educator Annmarie Chelius, CHE, CCE, CWPC, of Ocean City.

The gold medal recipients included: Jennifer Quig of Brigantine for her rendition of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch from chocolate and food coloring; Lynsey Longwith of Williamstown for her interpretation of Giuseppe Arcimbaldo’s “Spring” in marzipan; Louis Favieri of Franklinville for his adaptation of Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” out of rolled fondant; and Holly Bloodworth of Medford Lakes for replicating Vincent Van Gogh’s “Café at Night” from chocolate and food color.

The Scream

The Scream.

Silver medals were awarded to: Favieri for his redesign of Frank Lloyd Wright’s “Barrel Chair” in pastillage; Melanie DiGiacomo of New Gretna for a chocolate replica of Beatrix Potter’s “The Mouse Tailor;” and Megan Chadwick of Petersburg for her replica Limoges tea set in chocolate and “The Dining Room” in pastillage and rolled fondant.

“There was an unbelievable amount of interest in the pieces and wonderfully positive comments by the attendees of the food show about our entries—from the unique display to the level of skill our students displayed,” said Chef Kelly McClay, dean of the Academy.

Benefits of Alumni Membership

Membership in the ACCC Alumni Association, which is open to all students who have received a degree or completed the culinary arts program, will provide you with meaningful discounts and benefits while keeping you informed about the people, programs and events at your alma mater.

As a member of the Alumni Association, you can receive a 20 percent discount at Careme’s, the student-run gourmet restaurant on ACCC’s Mays Landing Campus. The restaurant offers fine dining in an intimate setting, serving lunch and dinner Monday through Friday when classes are in session. Alumni Association members can receive a 20 percent discount on the cost of their meals, excluding specials. Reservations are required. For information or reservations, call Careme’s at (609) 343-4940.

If you’re not already an Alumni Association member, call (609) 343-5616 to join, or visit for membership information. Annual membership dues are $15; lifetime memberships are $150.