Governor proud of NMTI’s 18 culinary arts students

GOVERNOR Ralph D.LG. Torres said he was proud of the 18 students in the Northern Marianas Trades Institute’s culinary arts program who prepared chicken chasseur for their demo meal on Wednesday night.

The governor, first lady Diann Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog and some lawmakers were NMTI’s guests.

Gov. Ralph Torres, first lady Diann Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, Senate President Arnold Palacios and Chalan Kanoa Bishop Ryan Jimenez pose with trade school officials. Photo by Cherrie Anne E. Villahermosa

The instructor, Chef Ty Pauling, said it took an hour to prepare the chicken dish which included steamed rice and broccoli.

He said it was a simple but delicate dish to prepare.

“It’s delicate in the sense that there are a lot of ingredients and requires a lot of skill to be able to produce a product in a consistent manner with good flavor. It also has healthy components for the guests — it’s about the technical details and what it takes to prepare it correctly.”

Governor Torres said the dish was excellent.

“I would pay top dollar for this dish. I’d like to congratulate NMTI, the chefs and the students for an excellent job. This is a successful program and I am proud of the students. I am excited to see them use their skills and I’m looking forward to see them in our restaurants and hotels.”

Torres said he will continue to support NMTI and will look for more funding for its programs which include carpentry, electrical technology, plumbing, welding, masonry, hotel and restaurant management.

Agnes McPhetres, NMTI’s CEO, said the culinary arts program involves 15 weeks of classroom lectures and hands-on training.

The instructors and students meet twice a week for an hour of lecture and three hours of hands-on training, she added.

The students also undergo on-the-job training for 240 hours at various restaurants and hotels.

“After they get their certification, they are on their own — 90 percent of our students are hired now all over Saipan,” McPhetres said.

She added that 80 students have completed the NMTI’s culinary arts program so far, and these 18 comprise the sixth batch to complete the course.

Pauling said the program is doing well so far — all a student needs is a passion for cooking and the confidence that she or he can do it.

“We’re here to help them develop skills and build their confidence. All they have to do is give this a try,” he added.

McPhetres said vocational programs are expensive. “Culinary arts instruction requires consumable materials and for construction trades like carpentry, we use a lot of wood.”

She said because they are relying on CW funds, their programs are limited and cannot accommodate more students.

“The funding is never enough…. the bottom line is, the more funding we get, the more students could benefit. Right now it’s limited, with limited instructors,” McPhetres said.

In FY 2016, NMTI received over $890,000 in CW funds, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. The Public School System received $1.5 million while Northern Marianas College got $600,000.

Aside from Pauling, NMTI’s other culinary arts instructors are Zen Tomokane and Benjamin Babauta. For the hotel and restaurant program, one of the instructors is Nadia Camacho.

McPhetres said their instructors are required to attend workshops and pass examinations in order for them to teach.

“We hired people with credentials and they have to be [U.S] certified…in order for them to teach. NMTI is also trying its very best to bring in more students. Right now we have 300 students in different areas. We are also going out to high schools and focusing on juniors and seniors. By the time they graduate from high school they can participate in our programs. We haven’t touched Rota and Tinian yet, but we are already reaching out to all the high schools here in Saipan.”

Source: Marianas Variety :

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