On October 19, at the Culinary Education Center located in Asbury Park, the students had a surprise visit from the ‘rock star’ of the culinary world; Celebrity Chef, David Burke. As the Brookdale Culinary Students, were focused on prepping and preparing their individual recipes, for a class project, Burke walked into the kitchen very casually. Even with the masks on, you could see the student’s surprised faces light up with excitement, and the kitchen energy was taken up several notches. Burke immediately engaged with the students, and they began comfortably cooking together with him, and of course later, the best part; tasting! It was definitely a day those culinary students will always remember, and from the interest Burke expressed, one he too will not forget.
Burke walked around the entire kitchen, genuinely interested in every student, asking a lot of questions, and matching the excitement level the students had for him. Burke, a Hazlet NJ native, was totally in his element, and it was obvious. He stayed in the kitchen for a significant length of time, curious about every recipe and happy to find ingredients he was not familiar with prior, like akai, the national fruit of Jamaica.
Brookdale Culinary student Jordan Goulbourne was preparing a fish dish with akai, and other ingredients. It’s a Jamacian recipe that he said his father inspired him to make. Goulbourne commented to TAPinto, “I love the Brookdale Culinary Program. My father always wanted me to stay in the kitchen with him when he cooked as I was growing up. My dad said that when he was growing up in Jamaica, his mother taught him how to cook. My grandmother told him that if he knew how to cook, he would be fine in life. So, my dad always invited me to help him in the kitchen too. Culinary is what I want to do with my life career, and I’m graduating this year, which is sad because I will miss it here, but I am so excited to start my career as a chef too.”
The spontaneous kitchen visit with Burke occurred immediately after Brookdale Community College President, Dr. David Stout, on behalf of Brookdale’s Foundation, signed an agreement with Chef David Burke, to establish the Chef David Burke Scholarship. During the signing, the backdrop was the open kitchen at the Culinary Education Center. Burke appreciated the chefs backing them up, as evident when he turned to engage with and wave to the culinary professors behind him. Dr. David Stout commented to Chef Burke, “I want to thank you for persevering to make this a reality and supporting the educational endeavors of our students.”
The scholarship is outlined as such; Starting with the fall 2021 term, Burke has agreed to contribute $5,000 to the BCC Foundation to establish a scholarship fund for Culinary & Hospitality Management students. Two scholarships will be awarded, one for a culinary student, one for a Hospitality Management student. Each scholarship will be for $2,500.00 per term (total of $10,000 per academic year). “We are grateful to Chef Burke for his generosity and for the incredible opportunity his scholarships will provide for Brookdale’s Culinary and Hospitality Management students,” said Nancy Kaari, Vice President of Advancement.
Burke will cover the cost of an entire semester of Brookdale classes for one Hospitality Management student and one Culinary Arts student. In return, the students will work for Burke in one of his local restaurants for six months. The students will be paid for their work for Burke. The full-time students must be in the second semester and be in good academic standing with a 3.0 GPA in Career Courses. Brookdale will select the applicants, and Burke will make the final selections. “It is a unique opportunity to receive a scholarship, plus a paid internship,” said Nora Kerr-McCurry, institute dean of Business and Social Sciences.
Burke will carry the financial responsibility of the students’ course in exchange for the students to commit to employment with Burke for a period of time. Not only does it help to staff Burke’s restaurants with well-trained professionals, but it also gives the students something priceless, the hands-on experience of learning to cook and provide hospitality alongside Burke. Burke’s passion for culinary arts and the quality and detail associated with a world-class dining experience, will give additional training to the students while they are working. Organically for the students, there will be possible opportunities for long-term employment upon graduation from the Brookdale program.
Chef Burke is an icon in the hospitality industry, with international reach. He is currently expanding again in NJ, in the greater Monmouth County area. Students may work in any of his restaurants, nearby are DRIFTHOUSE in Sea Bright, Red Horse in Rumson, Orchard Park in East Brunswick, and soon Union Beach in March with more local locations on the horizon. This scholarship program will train sous chefs, cooks, maître d’s, and managers.
Gerard Visci is a student currently at David Burke’s Red Horse restaurant working in the kitchen during the day and as a waiter at night. “He told me he is so happy and learning so much,” said Chef Burke, who believes deeply in a dedicated and professionally trained staff. As a result, the Chef Burke and Brookdale Scholarship Program will consistently produce talent that is a cut above, setting students on a path for success.
“It is a great opportunity to work in the back and the front of the house at the same time,” said Chef Burke. “Watching the customer enjoy what you made, and see the results of the work you did in the back in real-time, helps to learn where mistakes can be made. Like why a cocktail fork is important or why a dish needs to be plated a certain way. It cuts out the separation of the front and back of the house and creates a respect for both sides.”
“I am so excited Chef Burke is helping students pay for their education and giving them a job where they are getting paid and learning new skills,” said Professor of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management, Michelle Zuppe. “He works around their school schedules and has created a win, win for all of us.”
TAPinto spoke with Brookdale Community College Foundation Board Member, Jacquie Dalton, who commented, “Today’s agreement between Chef David Burke and Dr. David Stout, on behalf of Brookdale’s Foundation, is yet another example of community leadership benefitting our youth. Thank you to Chef David for investing in our youth, for giving back locally to the community he grew up in. He’s offering invaluable life-changing experiences to these students. It’s also another great example of the community minded leadership of Dr. David Stout. We are so fortunate to have Dr. Stout at the helm of Brookdale. What is now being offered to these culinary students in having the opportunity to train and work with Chef David, is like having Bon Jovi work with college music industry students. How exciting for all!”
Chef Burke believes deeply in a dedicated and professionally trained staff. As a result, the David Burke and Brookdale Scholarship Program will consistently produce talent that is a cut above, setting students on a path for success.
Chef Burke is an icon in the hospitality industry. Throughout the past twenty years, Burke’s wide-ranging and innovative restaurant concepts have included David Burke Townhouse, David Burke at Bloomingdale’s, Fishtail by David Burke, and David Burke Kitchen (NYC); David Burke Fromagerie (Rumson, NJ); David Burke’s Primehouse (Chicago); David Burke Las Vegas (Las Vegas); and David Burke Prime (Foxwoods, CT).
Currently, David has opened David Burke Tavern (his NYC Flagship Restaurant), launched the David Burke Catering Company, David Burke Hospitality Management, Woodpecker by David Burke in NYC, Drifthouse and Nauti Bar by David Burke, on the Jersey shore, Breckenridge Distillery in Breckenridge, CO, Red Salt by David Burke and Cloud Bar by David Burke in Charlotte, NC, Orchard Park by David Burke in East Brunswick, NJ, Red Horse by David Burke in Rumson, NJ, 1776 by David Burke featuring Topgolf Swing Suite in Morristown, NJ and two locations of David Burke KSA in Saudi Arabia. He is the Culinary Director for the Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga, VENTANAS in Fort Lee, Son Cubano in West New York, The Garden City Hotel which includes Red Salt Room by David Burke, the King Bar by DB & The Patio Bar, and Mister French in NYC.Chef David Burke is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He is considered a rock star of modern American cuisine, has won numerous awards, including being nominated twice for the James Beard Best Chef. In May 2009, the James Beard Foundation inducted Burke into the Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America. In addition, the Nation’s Restaurant News presented him with the Menu Masters award, naming him one of the nation’s most celebrated culinary innovators. In addition, Burke has published two cookbooks, Cooking with David Burke (1999) and David Burke’s New American Classics (2006).