El Paso Community College partnered with Sysco Foods of New Mexico. Sysco Foods is the largest food supplier for New Mexico and most of West Texas.
The partnership developed in an attempt to help EPCC culinary students receive hands on experience with top-notch equipment and provide job opportunities.
The partnership started when EPCC reached out to vendors in the area.
“Sysco was the only one with enough foresight to join us in this endeavor,” said Chef Daniel Guerra, Coordinator of the Culinary Arts Department.
Through the partnership, EPCC and Sysco will have annual showcases promoting a variety of products.
“The benefit is more for the students. The students will assist their corporate chef and nine times out of 10 –they actually get hired by the local chefs and local tours that come and view the different products Sysco has to offer,” said Guerra.
Aside from the new upgrades Sysco has provided EPCC with –they will also give students a chance to become members of the American Culinary Federation (ACF).
The ACF is the only organization that can give out the titles of Master Chef and Certified Executive Chef.
“If students help their corporate chefs for the entire semester, Sysco Foods of New Mexico will pay for their membership into the American Culinary Federation,” said Guerra. “From there, they can get their certificates to become certified culinarians.”
The success of the partnership has encouraged many other colleges to do the same.
“There have been seven other colleges and universities across the country… that keep coming to us and asking us how we did the partnership,” said Guerra.
The most recent partnership has been from a college in Riverside, California.
“They took bits and pieces from our design and implemented it into their college,” said Guerra. “People are trying to use what we’ve done here all over the country.”