In conjunction with a local high school, the Naples, Fla. property hosts students for intensive sessions that introduces them to practical kitchen-management skills as well as food-preparation instruction and techniques. The camp culminates with the students helping the club’s staff prepare Bonita Bay’s traditional Friday-night buffet. Participants in previous camps now hold full-time culinary positions at Bonita Bay.
A new generation of local up-and-coming chefs gained valuable hands-on experience in the kitchen this summer at the Culinary Boot Camp held at the Bonita Bay Club in Naples, Fla.
Under the guidance of Richard Brumm, the Bonita Bay Club’s Executive Chef and Director of Culinary Operations, the club’s Boot Camp program is in its third year of partnership with the local Estero High School’s Culinary Program and its Chef Instructor, Jeremy Jasper.
Estero High School Culinary Program students Freddy Figueroa, Amy Hallifax, Kaitlyn Jacobson and Angel Jimenez were selected this year to participate in the intensive experience that is designed to deliver a snapshot of life as a professional culinarian.
Over four six-hour days, Brumm and his team of sous chefs introduced the students to practical kitchen-management skills, such as ordering, receiving and sanitation, before progressing to sauce work, vegetable fabrication, garde manger and platter creation. Students also learned the basics of seafood, poultry and beef preparation.
The participating students quickly realize that working in a professional kitchen is different from what they may have seen on the Food Network, Brumm says—and the Boot Camp is a great way for them to gauge if the profession is the right fit for them.
“Now, they can see firsthand what working in the field is like, and learn what to expect in terms of career progression,” Brumm notes.
In a challenging labor market, the Culinary Boot Camp also helps the Bonita Bay Club identify and develop new entry-level talent—and in fact, three students who have participated in the camp’s inaugural year were then offered full-time positions and have been part of the club’s culinary team for two years.
This year’s Boot Camp culminated with the club’s traditional Friday-night buffet. After helping to prepare a Creole-themed dinner for club members, complete with gumbo and red beans, the students received a certificate of completion and a professional chef’s knife to start their personal collection.
One of this year’s participants, Amy Hallifax, especially liked creating the cheese platter for the member event. “Assembling it all by ourselves was really cool,” she said.
Added Angel Jiminez: “Learning from actual chefs was a great experience.”
Even after the Culinary Boot Camp is complete, Chef Brumm offers guidance to students who are continuing their culinary studies. This year, he helped to coordinate an internship with a Certified Master Chef for a former Boot Camp graduate who is currently enrolled at the Keiser University Center for Culinary Arts in Sarasota, Fla.
“It’s amazing to see young students discover their passion for the profession,” Brumm says.
“We’re so happy to be able to help cultivate that talent at Bonita Bay Club – it’s truly rewarding.”