The Look, The Resume, and The Interview

By Kristine Alfes and Mark Schostak

Well, it’s about that time: growing up. This means there are bills to pay and things to buy, or maybe there is an upcoming date. Regardless, there is one thing holding you back: you don’t have a job! How are you supposed to get anything done? Here is some advice that will help you to land that position and create a career pathway. Take some deep breaths and keep reading.

The First Step: The Look

Play the part. First impressions are, unfortunately, based on looks. Therefore, you must look eager to work. Do not carry yourself in a droopy manner or look like a mess. The easiest way is to stand up straight and walk with a purpose. All you need to do is be relaxed but still be a professional version of yourself. This translates through your clothes also. Clean, neat, and professional is what most employers look for when meeting a new hire. Gentlemen should consider trimmed facial hair, fresh breath, and nice cologne. A clean, pressed button-down shirt with a tie will be enough. If you’re going for that higher position in the company, tuck that shirt in and throw a suit jacket on top. Avoid sneakers at all cost. Ladies should consider a modest blouse with a pair of slacks or a clean-cut dress. Practice good hygiene and exemplify professionalism in your overall appearance.

The Second Step: The Resume

Whether you’re going for your first job or your last, always maintain an organized and updated resume. Any employer noted on your resume should have a small blurb stating what positions you held and what job duties you performed. Everyone looks for experience first, so sell yourself to be the best candidate for the position. If you do not have any previous skills to show off, write down accomplishments. Good grades in school, extracurricular activities, or community service work will give a positive image to the prospective employer.

The Third Step: The Interview

Employers will often conduct an interview to see what kind of person you are and if you’re a good fit for the position and company. The interviewer will ask an abundance of questions–the trick to blazing through the questions is to be relaxed and focused. Do not over-complicate the answers so as to avoid saying things that you do not want them to hear. Answers that are plenty informative without being too detailed or long-winded will more likely lead to a good interview. Always be honest, and whatever you do, do not be condescending toward any person when describing a previous experience or when describing those around you currently. Afterward, you will have the opportunity to ask a few questions of your own. Do not be afraid to ask any questions about the company, leadership, or growth opportunities. It shows that you have an interest in them and are eager to be a part of the company. Always research the company prior to the interview, as it is good to have some general knowledge and questions prepared in advance. Be mindful of the types of questions as well. Asking about pay during the first interview may lead to mixed reviews about you in the employer’s eyes. As long as you are the best version of yourself, that position is golden.

These are the basic steps to gaining the experience and confidence to get you through to that job. Always have a sense of professionalism about you, but do not go overboard or understated. Everyone has the potential to make an impact, one job at a time. Plus, if you ever feel nervous, just take a deep breath and take one step forward at a time.

We know that you can do this. Good luck!
Read the career success stories of our alumni clicking here!

Kristine Alfes, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of July 2017

Mark Schostak
Culinary Arts, Class of July 2018

A Home Away From Home

By Kimberly Stefanelli and Tyler Fortna

Kimberly Stefanelli

Walnut Hill College has become like a second home to me over the past two years. I’m so glad that I chose to get my education in Pastry Arts here, as I could not have picked a better college. My first time at Walnut Hill College was my junior year of high school. Still unsure of whether attending a hospitality college was the right choice for a career path, I decided to join in on a tour to see what it was like. Instantly after the tour, I fell in love with the ambiance and knew that it was the college for me. Later that year, I attended the Summer Institute program, wishing to see the college again and get a feel for the kitchen. I fell even more in love with Walnut Hill College because of its location in University City and its beautiful and comforting campus. The professors and chefs I met and have now come to know very well made it feel like an instant family, so I knew I’d be making the right choice in going here. From applying and getting accepted, to graduating with my A.S. in Pastry Arts and being currently enrolled in the bachelor program and the Student Leadership Development Institute, I could not be any happier with where I am today.

Kimberly Stefanelli, Student Leader
Pastry Arts, Class of July 2018

Tyler Fortna

Like Kim, I toured the college my junior year of high school and participated in the Summer Institute program the college offers. I instantly fell in love with the college and knew where I wanted to go to college and what I wanted to aspire to be. After spending what is now two and a half years at the college and gearing up to graduate and move on to my next journey in life, I feel as if I’ve made a second family here–my home away from home. The chef instructors, both pastry and culinary, are great role models, and each of them has qualities of what I aspire to be like one day. If I could do the whole process over again, there is no question that I would pick this college. Every time you enter through the front doors of Allison Mansion, you notice something that you haven’t seen before and how unique our college is. Just like a famous kitchen saying goes, “there is always a surprise at every corner,” and that couldn’t be any more true about our college.

Tyler Fortna, Student Leader
Pastry Arts, Class of July 2017

Introducing Dr. Jay Guben

By Kenan Rabah and Cecelia Johnson-Chavis

In an effort to learn more about the history of our College, we reached out to President Liberatoscioli. He shared with us some of the College’s many milestones, but what really stood out was the story of Dr. Jay Guben. It is a name that not many of us know well, but after some research, it became clear that this is a man who has had a tremendous impact on each of us as members of the Walnut Hill College community and as Philadelphians as well.

Jay Guben came to Philadelphia in the 1960’s with a background in urban renewal. He was a gastronome, unsatisfied with the city’s culinary offerings determined to change the scene. In 1971, Guben opened his first restaurant, Les Amis, with partner Vicki Rensen, and very soon afterward opened Friday Saturday Sunday with a small team of restaurateurs. Both restaurants were said to have a “California flowerpot style,” featuring rotating, seasonal menus and fresh, local ingredients. Within the next five years, Guben opened nearly a dozen restaurants, including Morgan’s, Maxwell’s Prime, Bogarts, and Upstairs, Downstairs. Guben is credited with creating variety in Philadelphia’s restaurant scene and showing city dwellers that dining out could be fun and interesting.

In 1974, Jay Guben assembled a team comprised of Chef Thomas Hunter, Maître D’ Hans Bachler, and Anita Simon. Together, they opened The Restaurant School. The school operated out of a four-story brownstone at 2129 Walnut Street with only one kitchen, one classroom, one office, and a 40-seat restaurant. The program lasted only 10 months, and they began with only nine students. In the second year, our very own president, Mr. Liberatoscioli, completed the program. Over the next few years, the enrollment and presence of The Restaurant School continued to multiply, and by 1978, nearly a quarter of the school’s graduates owned and operated restaurants in the city. Dr. Guben’s commitment to education did not end with The Restaurant School. He has since founded Freire Charter School, Praxis Learning Institutes, and I-LEAD Charter School, each of which aims to meet an underserved need in traditional education systems. He has also spent much of his career consulting and fostering local entrepreneurship and worker-owned businesses through his organization, The O&O Investments Fund. In 2015, Dr. Guben worked with Drexel University and the People’s Emergency Center to create Fresh Start Foods, a program that provides fresh and healthful meals to West Philadelphia schools at a low cost. The program also offers a culinary apprenticeship program to local residents with little secondary education or work experience.

The impression that Dr. Jay Guben has had on our College and our city is nearly immeasurable. Not only did he pioneer Philadelphia’s restaurant revolution, but he used his position and influence within the city to advance the state of business and education as well.

-Kenan Rabah, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of March 2018

-Cecelia Johnson-Chavis, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of March 2018

Walnut Hill College Hosts Philly Florida Keys Cook-Off

At Walnut Hill College, we know the recipe for success, and the Florida Keys and Key West “Philadelphia Food Influencer Cook-Off” had all the ingredients of a fantastic event. Bringing together an eclectic mix of hosts, contestants, cocktails, and food, the Florida Keys and Key West-inspired event proved to be a memorable night of culture, food, and fun.

The Event

The Florida Keys and Key West cook-off competition was a challenge set by Key West native Chef Bobby Stoky and aimed at highlighting the lively culinary scene in the Keys. As part of the challenge, 24 contestants chosen for their status as local food and travel influencers and writers were asked to prepare two traditional Florida Keys dishes: key lime pie and red snapper. Winners were chosen based on the taste, presentation, and creativity of their dishes.

The Hosts

Chef Bobby Stoky and well-known Philadelphian Pat Croce both have deep roots in Key West. With Pat’s legendary run as President and owner of the 76ers, our discussion about legends might have been about Allen Iverson but instead was focused on pirates, Sir Francis Drake, and Pat’s search to locate the legend’s final resting place.

Both Stoky and Croce run numerous restaurants in Key West and feel blessed to be based in such a beautiful part of the world. Chef Bobby raved about the fresh fish in the Keys, even noting that some restaurants have a BYOF (bring your own fish) policy! Seeking something a little different than fish on his trip to Philadelphia, Chef Bobby’s passion for food led him to try his first cheesesteak from Ishkabibbles, and he even said he was also planning on visiting Jim’s on South Street before heading back to the Keys. What does a chef like Bobby Stoky get on his cheesesteak? “Provolone, onions, and mushrooms,” he said.

The Students

Students from Walnut Hill College were in attendance at the event to lend a helping hand and emotional support to the eager and excited contestants. Speaking with Tina Danner, Kobie Jones, and Jamira Brice, who are students at Walnut Hill College, they said they enjoyed how the cook-off had brought everyone together. “It’s a positive creative process, and although there can be some pressure in the kitchen, there is also a lot of laughter. It’s great for community building,” said Kobie.

Their technical skills were also on display with Kevin Ellul, who is a Student Leader at the school, leading the charge by using a blowtorch to give the meringue its finishing touches.

The Contestants

Food critics, writers, bloggers, news anchors, food influencers, and radio hosts made up the eclectic group of chefs looking to win the prize of a trip to the Florida Keys. Alex Holley from Fox 29 said that the food had put her “in the mood” to head down to the Keys. Known as the “Dougie Queen on her morning show, we’re sure her dancing skills would not be out of place in Key West.

Nicole Michalik, morning host on Mix 106, created what she described as the “YOLO” version of the red snapper dish, which, by the way, tasted great. Although she played down her cooking experience, she did have one of the best acronyms for breading fish. “I just think of FEBruary: flour, eggs, then breadcrumbs!” she said.

Denine Gorniak, a graduate of Walnut Hill College who is known for her blog called The Bicycle Chef, was confident about her red snapper dish. And for her, baking the key lime pie was “all about the science.” She said she had enjoyed the experience of preparing the food in a professional kitchen.

Kass Dahlquist, who started Philly Food Girl three years ago to share her love of food, said the students were fabulous and very supportive. Asked about what makes a great food writer, she said, “just be authentic and people will respond.”

The School: Walnut Hill College

For many attending the cook-off, this was the first time they had been to Walnut Hill College. The contestants were amazed by the kitchens and the facilities. For some, this was the first time they had the chance to cook in a professional kitchen. For the guests, the calypso music, cocktails, and great food meant that the backdrop was the star of the show.

The Florida Keys and Key West

Transporting the guests and contestants to the Florida Keys and Key West was the sauce that brought all the ingredients together. A big thank you to the Florida Keys and Key West Tourist Board for hosting this memorable event at the College. We look forward to creating more memorable nights together!

4 Cocktails Inspired by the Florida Keys

Providing a taste of paradise to the City of Brotherly Love, the Florida Keys & Key West Cook-Off offered 24 contestants the chance to face-off for a trip to the beautiful Florida Keys. Hosted here at Walnut Hill College, this unique event brought together some of Philadelphia’s top food influencers, chefs, and bartenders. Amidst the food and frenzy, four of Philadelphia’s hardest working and most talented bartenders were invited to stir and shake up their best Keys-inspired cocktail. Here’s what they came up with.

Breeze Way

Nickolas Brozek – Dim Sum House

This twist on an island favorite features gin, subtle hints of vanilla, and key lime shrub, topped with egg white.

Key Lime Sake Shrub
Vanilla Meringue

The Black Pearl

Seamus Banning – Vesper

Eucalyptus, bitter citrus, and spice affably dance with molasses in this dark rum cocktail. However, its color remains as mysterious as The Black Pearl.

Dark Rum
Fernet Branca
Grapefruit Juice
Lime Juice
Vanilla Spice Syrup
Activated Charcoal

Papa’s Punch

Michelle Curtis – Whetstone Tavern

In honor of Hemmingway’s fishing nickname, this refreshing rum punch features flavors of basil, strawberry, and pineapple. With these flavors, Papa’s Punch is practically begging to be sipped after a hot day in the Florida sun.

Strawberry Basil Syrup
White Cacao

Mother of the Dragon

Kimberly Shurig – Fine Palate

With a name like Mother of the Dragon, you know this one is going to be powerful. It features tequila and dragon fruit with a hint of habanero-infused simple syrup over fresh ice, garnished with a lime peel, dragon fruit skin, and cilantro.

Dragon Fruit
Habanero-Infused Simple Syrup

Seamus Banning from Vesper Club won out for best cocktail of the night and will receive a two-night stay at the Margaritaville Resort & Marina in Key West. Which cocktail would you sip on the beach?

A job you love isn’t a job at all!

By Kevin Ellul and Matthew Cowles

A Job You Love Isn’t a Job At All
mentor: Kevin Ellul

I graduated high school in a small town located in Southern New Jersey, and I grew up to love the art of cooking. I have grown to love not only cooking in general but the complete concept of hospitality. I also love and respect the ingredients that I work with as well as the new techniques that I learn every day. Ever since I was five years old, I wanted to be a chef–and a zoologist, artist, photographer, baker, and writer. Like most five-year-olds, I wanted to be everything when I grew up. However, this passion for animals, art, photography, baking, and even writing evolved into one cohesive title: chef. The characteristics of a chef or a cook, in general, involve passion. For starters, this career is hard on you. It pushes you down, wears you out, and causes you pain and agony–only to pick you back up and give you hope, experience, and a thick skin.

After high school, my passion for cooking became a lifestyle existing in the upbeat city of Philadelphia. I had finally enrolled in a culinary school at Walnut Hill College, a historic, colorful, friendly, and unique place where like minds come to co-exist and learn to become the best that they can. When I walked into my first kitchen class, my stiff maroon neckerchief itching at the back of my neck, I looked up and saw a man in a tall, white hat, a crisp, white apron, and a pair of black, chalk-striped pants. He greeted everyone with such a joyous attitude, and the first thing he stated was, “A job you love isn’t a job at all.” I took from that the idea that you should do what you love with great care, finesse, and a strong passion, but these actions shouldn’t be so effortful as to be forced. Instead, you should want to do these things because you love what you do and desire to be better at it. From that moment on, I carried that chef’s words with me throughout my two and a half years here. Every day, I try to improve myself by 1%. Therefore, every day, I grow 1% stronger, 1% more knowledgeable, 1% more respectable, and 1% more creative. By the end of the year, I’m 365% better than the previous year.

Throughout my time here, I have taken my thoughts and changed them into actions, learning from my mistakes. I started at the bottom and worked my way up within my career and my campus life. In the beginning, I started as a normal college student: afraid of meeting and losing friends, to ride on the subway for the first time, and even to wake up every day without having my family around me. I transitioned into a more comfortable and confident person by finding myself, working hard, and showing those around me that I care and I won’t give up. I was appointed a member of Walnut Hill College’s Residential Learning Committee, helping others when needed, directing them on a path toward success, and showing leadership. Now in my second-to-last term, I am a Student Leader (a great position offered to students who excel) and have received many awards for outstanding excellence due to my involvement at the College, perfect attendance, and maintaining a GPA above 3.7.

Being here has made me a better leader and my own individual person. Because of my leadership and passion, I’ve had the ability to create and execute a themed menu for the public out of thin air, my first being very successful, and, hopefully, my second coming this April. So many challenges have occurred as the years went by, as they will come and go throughout my entire life. I’m very excited to see what my future holds for me–and scared at the same time. However, I will keep pushing myself to become that 1% better in everything that I do. I will keep pushing to complete my goals, one of which is to obtain a master’s degree while another is to become a restaurateur.

Kevin Ellul, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of July 2017

Doing What You Love
Mentee: Matthew Cowles

A few years ago, I could say that I had not a single clue what I was going to do with my life. I had read countless articles to try and spark a flame and get the creative juices flowing, but that never worked. Then after high school, I went to community college, still not knowing what life had in store for me. I took a blind leap into my studies. First, I started with a Liberal Arts major, hoping to find that spark in one of my classes. I did find something that interested me: my introduction to personal psychology. I decided to switch majors later that week. I loved this new road I had taken myself down, but after a while, I started to doubt myself. There was something, a thought in the back of my head. “Is there something else? How can I switch again?” I asked myself, “Could it be my love for food? No, I couldn’t be. I would never want to do what I love doing every day for the rest of my life. That would just take the fun out of it, wouldn’t it?”

A short time later, I was talking to a career counselor. Everything kept leading us back to food and my love for others. I knew then and there that I was meant to cook, which led me to my next leap. I scheduled a meeting at Walnut Hill College…I was so nervous. When I got there and began my tour, my nerves began to settle and my interest heightened. We walked into a kitchen and they were cooking seafood that day in class. The chef welcomed us in during their tasting, as they had just finished cooking and were going to talk about their dishes and try each other’s food. When the chef invited me to join the process, I was so intrigued. I felt as though I were in a fog, thinking, “Why had I not come sooner?” I am grateful to have met Chef McLean in that kitchen.

I enrolled immediately, without hesitation. I was no longer worried about ruining a hobby because I would be gaining a career. I’d like to think it is true that if you do what you love, then you will never truly work a day in your life. It changed everything for me. I was no longer struggling with school work and was getting grades I had never gotten before. I was never happier; in fact, I still feel this way. I owe it to Walnut Hill College for making me who I am today and proving to me that anything is possible if you put in the work. Given a second chance, I wouldn’t change anything.

My inspiration and the drive I have for cooking comes from my mother. She spares no expense when it comes to meals, always going the distance and never settling on a routine of the same seven dishes for the week. Instead, she tries new things and opens our minds and hearts to new foods and flavors. I love this industry, the people, the friends I’ve made, and the places I get to experience. There is always something to be done and always something waiting to be created, just waiting for the artist who can bring it to life.

Matthew Cowles, Student Leader
Culinary Arts, Class of July 2018