Essence Bakery Café started Arizona’s first baking apprenticeship program in June for graduating high school students. Students who are still in high school can apply for the pre-apprenticeship program.
The two-year program allows students to gain valuable culinary skills without accruing student debt because there is no program fee.
The program was started by Essence Bakery Café chef and owner Eugenia Theodosopoulos who partnered with Arizona’s Careers through Culinary Arts Program. C-CAP partners with more than 150 high schools and connects students to job training and work opportunities, internships, scholarships, and college and career advising in the culinary field.
Students learn hands-on experience while making croissants, macaroons, breads, cookies and other pastries.
Theodosopoulos says the program was created to alleviate debt that many students have after graduating from college.
During the apprenticeship, students start at minimum wage while they learn the tools of the trade. Students can earn a higher wage by working their way up through achieving different goals throughout the program.
“These kids earn money and they become certified right after these two years by the state of Arizona,” Theodosopoulos says.
She says the program is an opportunity to help students gain skills in the culinary industry for a career that will benefit hospitality industries.
“After two years, they can pretty much go work anywhere in the world,” Theodosopoulos says.
Some of the apprenticeship positions include baking, front-of-house and managing.
“This is just the beginning of really making this program into something that can benefit hotels, restaurants, cafes and everybody in the hospitality industry,” Theodosopoulos says.