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Foundation Central in Providing Skills Training for Hospitality Industry

July 22, 2007 — Twelve local students are getting a chance to experience the hospitality industry in a three-week workshop, with the help of the St. Croix Foundation and funding from A Taste Of St. Croix.
The goals of the workshop are to give youngsters an idea of what the hospitality industry is about, help them later land a job and to foster a new workforce on St. Croix.
The workshop began July 16 and continues through Aug. 2 in the Career and Technical Education Center located at the St. Croix Education Complex Campus.
Instructor Anton Doos, a certified executive chef, has worked extensively in the food and hospitality industry worldwide, and has been working on St. Croix since 1986. He has managed and owned numerous restaurants on St. Croix.
On and off through the years he taught at the Skill Center in Princess. In 1998, under the encouragement of Willard John, assistant principal at the Career Center, Doos began a career as a culinary instructor there.
Doos said in a recent interview, "Children need to get into the habit of doing things correctly because habits are hard to change. I actually have fun teaching children and making an impact in their lives."
He continued, "If, in the next 20 years, two kids a year get into the hospitality industry I've done my job."
In the half-day workshop the youngsters, ages 16 and up, learn about basic safety and sanitation and the importance of proper food handling. Doos tells them to sing "Happy Birthday" while washing their hands to know how long to wash them.
The students learn why and how to keep hot food hot and cold food cold. They are instructed on the proper care and handling of knives. They are also told how to safely put out a kitchen fire. They learn to read labels on chemicals and how to properly use them with standards set for OSHA inspections.
The students also get instruction in basic food knowledge and the customer service area of the food and beverage industry. On completion of the course the children receive a certificate and first consideration for job openings locally. Doos said, "This first group of kids has been very excited, interested in learning and going on to be chefs." Doos would also like to do a workshop for adults.
Roger Dewey, executive director of the St. Croix Foundation, said that funds are set aside each year from A Taste of St. Croix to advance its hospitality industry.
Kelly Odom, of Tutto Bene, and Catherine Pugliese, of Restaurant Bacchus, started A Taste of St. Croix in 2000, to celebrate the food service industry and to showcase the island's variety of restaurants, caterers and wine purveyors. With money raised from the A Taste of St. Croix, the foundation is able to focus on initiatives such as public safety, education, economic development, community revitalization and supporting hospitality and tourism on St. Croix.
Earmarked to fund scholarships for 12 children was $6,000. Pugliese said, "I am very excited and encouraged with this program. We hope to expand on it in the future."
Doos said, "A lot of local 'Mom and Pop' restaurants don't have the funds or time to train new people, so this kind of program is perfect."
"This is the next generation of chefs taking an opportunity at testing the water and choosing a career," said Pugliese.
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