The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts Is Really Cooking!
The Center for Kosher Culinary Arts (CKCA) is located in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn. The school was founded by Baruch and Elka Pinson, owners of the very successful family owned cooking supply company Happy Home Housewares. As their business grew, the Pinsons recognized a need for instructional cooking classes and expanded by adding an in-house cooking school.
It all began seven years ago with recreational cooking classes, for hands-on cooking and baking enthusiasts. The diverse curriculum attracted interested “foodies” and kitchen hobbyists of all ages and experience levels. The classes grew in popularity and now are often waitlisted. They are primarily taught by specialty guest chefs on subjects such as sushi making, chocolate crafting, fruit and vegetable carving and edible bouquets.
In 2007, because of an ongoing stream of inquiries, the CKCA started the first and only professional kosher cooking school in the United States, offering career level training programs in both Culinary & Pastry Arts. Most attendees are kosher “keepers” and, for the first time, have the opportunity to prepare and actually taste their creations. The school’s motto is, “We cook and bake, then eat what we make.”
Jesse Blonder, a trained chef himself, is the visionary director of the school and has brought in a staff of expert chef instructors with advanced culinary credentials. The professional program is scheduled year round and completion of the program includes 150 hours of study – which can usually be achieved in 2-3 months. Class times are flexible and are offered both day and night. The chef instructors are highly trained, experienced food experts and are equipped with various culinary credentials.
Classes have included diverse offerings, such as Knife Skills, Culinary Techniques, and instruction on ethnic cuisines, which include Provincial and Classical French, Asian, Rustic Italian and Greek. Appearances by international food celebrities and demonstrations by popular cookbook authors have also been added to the curriculum.
Over the past two years, approximately 120 individuals from numerous states and abroad have completed CKCA professional courses. In addition to students from the Northeast, recent enrollees came from Arizona, Florida, Colorado, Michigan, California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut,Texas and from countries as far as Israel, England and Mexico.
So where do the graduates go?
The school has placed all who have desired internships, and assisted many in finding professional positions. Several grads are opening their own food-related businesses, and many have found commercial success working as personal chefs and caterers. Some internships and placements include popular restaurants, such as Prime Grill, Solo, 92nd Street Y, Tribeca Cafe, Mike's Bistro, Abigael’s and more.
Grad Jordana H. operates her own business, “The Blue Ladle”. She is a personal chef in Cedarhurst, NY and has a client base in both Manhattan and Long Island, NY. According to Jordana, “I deliver twice a week to homes and cook for special events in people's homes. A lot of people think that to work in the culinary world you have to be in a restaurant, but I wanted to either work in my home cooking for others, or work as a personal chef in other people's homes.”
Grad Alex Y. had been successfully running a fine jewelry store for sixteen years, when his family leased property to open a dairy kosher restaurant in Queens, NY. He was drafted to manage it because of his business experience, but he didn’t know how to cook. “I needed to learn everything, from how to boil water to more complicated dishes, as well as organizational things like planning a menu. It’s supposed to be a small family business, but now they refer to me as the head chef,” he said.
The CKCA chefs and students also reach out to the community by holding on-site demonstrations, private cooking classes, small-catered affairs, and serving as personal chefs. Recently the school donated its time to help prepare food for the opening of a nearby food kitchen.
KosherEye is delighted to feature the CKCA. Tomorrow we will be sharing some of the school’s tips and recipes with our KosherEye friends.