Aspiring cooks seeking to gain the skills needed to work in a food-service setting are encouraged to register for the Certified Fundamentals Cook (CFC) program now available at the University of the Virgin Islands Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (UVI CELL) on the Orville E. Kean Campus on St Thomas. 

Under the direct supervision of chefs and culinary instructors, students will gain experience, knowledge, skills, and insight into the food service industry. The six-month certification program for beginners allows students to benefit from a blend of learning techniques to nurture their passion and potential as they hone practical skills that can be applied in a wide range of culinary settings. 

Program Manager/Executive Chef Kerish Robles believes the program meets the needs not only of the many Virgin Islanders with an interest in the culinary field but also the Territory’s food service businesses with growing demands for talented professionals. 

"The Virgin Islands is poised to become a hotspot for all things food, and UVI’s culinary program is a step in the right direction. There are so many talented individuals here, and so many businesses that need skilled persons to help take their business to the next level with quality techniques and traits," said Chef Robles, who has more than 18 years of experience in the industry. 

As part of their learning experience, students in the UVI CELL CFC program benefit from hands-on experience in the state-of-the-art professional kitchen housed at Wild Sage, the student learning lab and restaurant located at UVI’s 13D Research and Strategy Innovation Center. The program includes a variety of industry-specific courses, such as Introduction to the Professional Kitchen; Production Kitchen Skills; Culinary Nutrition; Sauces, Soups and Dressings; Plate Designing and Finishing; and Culinary Internship and Career Exploration. 

Chef Robles believes immersive learning is a key component of the student experience. “Being able to see what the restaurant industry is like firsthand through our on-campus restaurant gives students not a taste, but a real experience. Our students are getting just that. In addition to learning valuable skills needed in the industry, they are able to make more informed decisions about whether this is a path they are committed to pursuing," she stated. 

In addition to gaining front-of-the-house experience, graduates of the program walk away with at least three other certifications including SERVsafe, restaurant server certifications, and they have the opportunity to earn the esteemed American Culinary Federation Certification, a recognized credential in the food service industry.  

To register for the UVI CELL CFC program, visit The deadline to register is Aug. 17, 2023. Classes begin on Aug. 21, 2023. For questions about the program, email   

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