Paula Moore is well on her way to a successful career in the culinary industry. She graduated from the Culinary Arts Specialist program at New Community Career & Technical Institute (NCCTI) in August 2019 and has been employed at Extended Care, NCC’s skilled nursing facility, as a cook for a year. She recently started a second job as a personal chef for a local celebrity.
“I’m so thankful for everything,” Moore said. “Because this has been quite a journey.”
Moore, who was born and raised in New York, had moved to Florida about 15 years ago and stayed after her mother became ill. When her mother passed nearly six years ago, she felt lost. When she was involved in a car accident in August 2018, she said it became clear to her that she had to return north. She replaced her car and drove to New Jersey with her son, who turns 12 in June.
The pair was placed at Harmony House, New Community’s transitional housing facility for homeless families. Moore’s cousin offered her a job managing a restaurant, so she decided to enroll in NCCTI’s Culinary Arts Specialist program so she could earn her ServSafe certificate.
Although the job with her cousin fell through, Moore continued going to class because she enjoyed the course. She excelled and was hired as a cook for Extended Care during her second month in school, a job she still has today.
In February, she started a second job as a personal chef for a local celebrity, a position NCCTI personnel recommended her for. She hopes the opportunity will further her career and help open more doors. Moore’s goal is to one day own her own business with “the works” — restaurant, lounge, catering company and food truck.
“I’m proud of myself because when I came here, I literally had nowhere to go and I was placed in Harmony House, took the schooling through NCC, employed by NCC and got another job through NCC,” she said. She also moved from Harmony House into her own apartment March 1. “Everything’s falling into place. It’s really lining up. So now it’s my opportunity to really get the ball rolling.”
Lead Culinary Arts Specialist Instructor Jonathan Butler believes the future is bright for Moore.
“I’m not surprised at Paula’s success in this industry. She was a wonderful student,” Butler said. “She’s just going to keep growing.”
Moore said Butler and Samuel Gaddy, Culinary Arts Specialist Assistant Instructor, were supportive from the first day of class and encouraged her. Now that they’re colleagues, Moore said the support and encouragement continues.
Before enrolling at NCCTI, Moore’s professional experience consisted of bookkeeping and accounting in the banking and finance sector. The school helped her find her passion and she plans to use her financial experience to help propel her when she’s able to start her own business.
NCCTI Director Rodney Brutton said the Culinary Arts Specialist program played an integral role in Moore’s educational and professional growth in the food service industry.
“Paula loves to cook and her passion for serving others comes out in the quality of her food presentation. As a student in our Culinary Arts program, she served as a leader and always made herself available to support her classmates,” he said. “We’re confident Paula will represent NCCTI in a very positive light as she continues to progress.”
Moore plans to stay working at Extended Care preparing meals for residents in addition to her personal chef responsibilities. She enjoys cooking for others.
“The thing that makes me happy is when I put a plate down in front of someone and they clean the plate,” she said. “I like when that plate is cleared because it shows that they enjoyed what they ate and they’re satisfied.”
NCCTI is an accredited post-secondary career and technical institution that offers the following programs: Automotive Technician, Diesel Technician, Building Trades Specialist, Clinical Medical Assistant, Patient Care Technician, Community Healthcare Worker, Culinary Arts Specialist and Business and Computer Technologies. NCCTI also operates a comprehensive Financial Opportunity Center and Bridges to Career Opportunities Program sponsored by the local and national Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) offices. For more information, call 973-824-6484, log onto newcommunitytech.edu or visit 274 South Orange Ave., Newark.