WORTON — Two Kent County High School graduates are headed to “the Harvard of culinary schools” this fall.
Faith Frase and Joseph Zappia, who were both enrolled in the Food and Beverage Management pathway at KCHS, have been accepted to the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., one of the best culinary schools in the nation.
They are the first two completers of the Food and Beverage Management pathway at KCHS to be accepted into the Culinary Institute of America.
“I’m very proud of both of them,” teacher John Keller said.
Frase and Zappia both knew they wanted to go there and it was the only school they applied to.
“My first application was for CIA, and I said, ‘If I don’t get in, I’ll apply to Johnson and Wales or try to find another culinary school,’” Frase said.
“When I applied, I was like, ‘All right, I applied, if I’m going to get in, I’m going to start planning for that.’ If I didn’t get in, I did not have a plan,” Zappia said.
According to the CIA website, the institution is “widely recognized as the world’s premier culinary college.” It prides itself on hands-on learning experiences and offers a variety of programs like internships, study abroad opportunities and bachelor’s degree concentrations to match. According to its website, “CIA degree programs blend the best of immersive learning, teamwork and food-focused academics.”
It is this hands-on approach to learning that drew Frase to the kitchen as a career path.
“With cooking, I can basically pull anything out of my fridge and I just try to create something out of that,” she said. “I knew when I moved here to Kent County in seventh grade and I found out that the high school I would be going to had a culinary program, I knew I was going to get involved in this program.”
Frase has been cooking for her entire life, as it is something she has always done with her family.
“My mom owns a nursing home, and we would always be helping with holidays like Christmas and Easter, and we’d always be cooking for them,” she said.
Zappia came to cooking a little later, as he transferred to KCHS his junior year.
“I really like food. I eat a lot,” he said. “I wasn’t really into it as much in the beginning of high school and I moved here during junior year and even then I didn’t really know what I wanted to do still, so essentially at the end of junior year I figured out that I wanted to cook because nothing else really spiked my interest at all. I love food, cooking’s fun, and I like tasty food.”
For Zappia, food is more than just something you eat.
“Food is very interesting, because it’s not just cooking and the actual food, it’s the whole culture around it, the people that work it, and the history behind it. Every single part of every single country’s cuisine has so much history behind it,” he said.
Zappia also is drawn to the less traditional aspects of a culinary career path.
“You get to travel all around the world for it,” he said. “That’s a major part of why I wanted to do it, I didn’t just want to be stuck in the same couple states.”
Both Frase and Zappia will be pursuing the food and business management major with a focus on the culinary arts at the CIA, which Zappia said is the track to take if you want to one day open your own restaurant. Frase plans on studying abroad in Singapore, where CIA has a campus. Zappia wants to study abroad in Italy.
After college, Frase wants to work in fine dining and work her way up in the ranks before eventually opening her own eatery.
Zappia plans on building a reputation in the culinary industry first, and wants to “hop around the Mediterranean” for a couple years before settling down anywhere specific. Eventually, he too would like to open his own restaurant.
“My end goal is to be able to cook anything from anywhere well, if not great,” he said.
Frase and Zappia’s coursework at KCHS helped them get to where they are now. The Food and Beverage Management program at KCHS participates in ProStart, a nationwide, two-year educational program that prepares students for work in the food industry. According to the ProStart website, “From culinary techniques to management skills, ProStart’s industry-driven curriculum provides real-life experience opportunities and builds practical skills and a foundation that will last a lifetime.”
At the end of ProStart, students who have completed all of the requirements are awarded the ProStart National Certificate of Achievement, which is an industry-recognized certificate. Frase, who had been a part of the program for three years, passed the ServSafe exam her sophomore year and earned her first level ProStart certification her junior year. Zappia, who had completed the two-year program in just 12 months, is not yet certified but will be taking the ServSafe test later this summer.
Zappia said he believes that programs like Food and Beverage Management are “the best thing you can do in a high school.”
Frase said she enjoyed and benefitted from having an alternative learning experience.
“They have a completely different atmosphere than a traditional classroom, because we’re actually doing hands-on learning that will prepare us for future jobs, and the majority of the students in ProStart actually do have jobs at restaurants,” Frase said.
According to Keller, KCHS’ variety of vocational programs are quite successful and provide students with good opportunities that train them for the work force after high school.
“I’m proud of all of the vocational programs here,” Keller said. “Hopefully this is the beginning of a renaissance in Kent County.”
Frase and Zappia along with their classmates graduated from KCHS on Saturday, June 1.
Editor's Note: Since the story was published June 13, we have heard from three other Kent County High School graduates who attended CIA: Mark Stevens and Joe Lill, Class of 1972, and Rachel Wyman, Class of 1998. They graduated from KCHS before there was a culinary arts pathway.