The NYC Department of Small Business Services has launched First Course NYC, a paid culinary apprenticeship to train New Yorkers and connect them to quality entry-level line cook jobs in leading New York City restaurants. With more than 24,000 restaurants across the City, SBS is meeting the growing demand for qualified kitchen employees and increasing access for New Yorkers to start their careers in the culinary arts.

“New York City’s restaurant industry is vital to the local economy,” said Gregg Bishop, commissioner of the NYC Department of Small Business Services. “Empowering residents with the skills needed to succeed in the ever-evolving food landscape gives them the opportunity for growth and prosperity in the future.”

With contributions, assistance and participation from some of New York City’s prominent chefs, restaurants, restaurant groups and food organizations, First Course NYC intends to prepare their participants for the level of service required today and in the future. From Amanda Cohen, chef/owner of Dirt Candy, and Gabrielle Hamilton, author/chef/owner/ of Prune Restaurant, to Jean-Georges Management and the James Beard Foundation, this consortium is ready for First Course NYC’s first graduates.

“Every restaurant is hungry for trained, skilled and dedicated staff to help build and professionalize the industry,” said Katherine Miller, vice president of Impact at the James Beard Foundation. “It’s vital for the success of New York’s restaurant community and is a powerful model for other cities to look at and hopefully follow. We are very enthusiastic about the format and goals of the First Course NYC culinary training program.”

Held at the Food Arts Center’s state-of-the-art kitchen training facility in midtown Manhattan, Chef David Waltuck and other industry professionals will guide participants for the first eight weeks of the 14-week program in culinary knowledge, classroom kitchen training and the fundamental technical skills required to be an entry-level professional line cook. A $125 per week stipend will be provided.

The remaining six weeks of the program offers participants paid on-the-job training in respected NYC restaurant kitchens as an apprentice by a restaurant partner, at $16/hour. First Course NYC’s intention is that qualified apprentices who successfully complete their training will continue with their employer as full-time entry-level line cooks.

Participants in the program will be supported by a human resources team designed to strengthen their onboarding, training and engagement experiences. A train-the-trainer workshop will be provided to restaurant partners to ensure best practices, cultivate high-potential talent and improve retention rates.

Attendance at a program information session is mandatory prior to applying. The remaining session times and locations follow:

Brooklyn Workforce1 Career Center (9 Bond St., 5th Floor, Brooklyn):

·Oct. 4: 1-2:30 p.m.

·Oct. 8: 3-4:30 p.m.

·Oct. 11: 10-11:30 a.m.

·Oct. 15: 9-10:30 a.m.

·Oct. 18: 1-2:30 a.m.

Upper Manhattan Workforce1 Career Center (215 W. 125th St., 6th Floor, Harlem):

·Oct. 7: 9-10:30 a.m.

·Oct. 7: 3-4:30 p.m.

·Oct. 21: 9-10:30 a.m.

·Oct. 21: 3-4:30 p.m.

For more information or to sign up for an information session, visit or dial 311 and ask for “First Course NYC.”

Happy eating and thanks for reading!

Kysha Harris is a food writer and editor, culinary producer, consultant and owner of SCHOP!, a personalized food service in NYC for over 15 years. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram, @SCHOPgirl, on Facebook, /SCHOPnyc, and her blog, Questions? Comments? Requests? Feedback? Invitations! Email AmNewsFOOD at Follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @NYAmNewsFOOD and tag us with #SoAmNewsFOOD with your food finds!