When was the last time you got to be a part of something life-changing? I mean, really life-changing. I got my chance, two weeks ago when I had the honor of attending the NECAT (New England Center of Arts and Technology) Culinary Cook off last week. I know, I know, your probably wondering what NECAT is, right? NECAT is one of the most ambitious and impressive programs for adult and youth education Boston has to offer. NETCAT’s mission is this, “Through inspirational and experiential learning environments, NECAT provides high-quality and industry-relevant job skill training for adults, and hands-on-arts education for youth. NECAT guides students through a transformational process to unlock their potential, shape lives and impact communities and they do just that. The New England Center of Arts and Technology, opened its doors here in Boston this past September, with the help of its Co-Founder and Chairman Maarten Hemsley to showcase their Culinary Arts Education Program. The program is a 28-week diploma program which teaches career skills and training to under-employed adults who are beginning or hoping to advance in the culinary field.
Guests admiring the NECAT teaching kitchen auditorium, while celebrity chefs, NECAT chefs and students prepare for the Culinary Competition – Photo Credit: Cape Cod Aerial Photography
The program itself is a replication of the MBC (Manchester Bidwell Corporation), a nationally renowned career and cultural training youth center founded in Pittsburgh, PA in 1968 by Bill Strickland. Strickland, a visionary, whom I had the honor of sitting and talking with, explained to me just how he was able to leverage the start of the MBC in a crime filled neighborhood in Pittsburgh and told me the importance of getting these youth off the street and giving them a place of their own to excel. Also, important he said, was to re-create the successful mold and build other centers all over the country. NECAT and Hemsley are well on their way. The amazing organization hosted the first of many fundraisers. The NECAT Culinary Experience on March 27th at the world class facility in Newmarket; Boston’s new emerging business district and the evening did not disappoint.
Michael Hunter; Karen Holmes Ward, Event Emcee from WCVB-TV Channel 5 Boston & Cityline; Sharyn Fireman; and Marvin Gilmore – Photo Credit: Samantha Robshaw Photography
The night kicked off with a VIP Reception chalk full of Celebrity Chefs from some of Boston’s best eateries including: Seasoned & Spiced’s Renita Mendoca, Tremont 647’s Andy Husbands, Tip Tap Room’s Brian Poe, Estelle’s Eric Gburski, Puritan and Company’s Will Gilson, L’Espalier’s Fran McClelland, Ritz Carlton’s Andrew Yeo, Four Season’s Brooke Vosika and Tavern Road’s Louis DiBiccari, just to name a few. The event was emceed by WCVB Channel 5 CityLine host, (and one of my favorites) Karen Holmes Ward and also in on the event action was Food Network’s Taniya Nayak. Also in attendance were former Patriots Patrick Pass, Thomas Clayton and Matt Chatham. The highlight of the night was the Culinary Competition, which paired NECAT culinary students on two teams, one lead by NECAT Board Member and 2 time Super Bowl Champion Jarvis Green and the other lead by 2 time Super Bowl Champion Eric Alexander. For the competition, both teams were given surprise ingredients and were timed. The best dish was critiqued by judges (Eastern Bank President, Bob Rivers; L’Espalier Owner/Exec Chef Frank McClelland and Johnson & Wales Univ. Culinary Dean Karl Guggenmos) and that would determine the winner, who ended up being Team Jarvis (Jarvis Green, NECAT Chef Dave Lentini who beat out Eric Alexander and NECAT Chef Terry Willett). The night ended with a live auction hosted by Tony V and Steve Sweeney.
New England Patriot Super Bowl Champs, Jarvis Green and Eric Alexander battling against each other in the NECAT Culinary Cook off – Photo Credit: Samantha Robshaw Photography
The one thing that stood out to me was, from the beginning to end, every person I met from Founders to students had an excitement about NECAT which was contagious. I can’t wait to see what the future of NECAT holds. If it’s anything like what I saw at the kickoff, this is the beginning of something revolutionary for education.
For more information: www.ne-cat.org
Event Photography by:
Samantha Robshaw Photography
Cape Cod Aerial Photography