Dorothy Cann Hamilton and José Andrés Announce Program to Decrease Student Loan Defaults and Provide Job Opportunities for Graduates of Any Culinary School

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Hamilton and Andrés launch initiative to help put culinary grads to work.

Dorothy Cann Hamilton and José Andrés Launch Initiative to Help Put Culinary Grads to Work

Dorothy Cann Hamilton, renowned educator, and José Andrés, acclaimed culinary innovator, who have between them guided thousands of culinary careers, announced today their new initiative, the Culinary Coalition, that when launched, will aid culinary graduates with a passion for the culinary arts in obtaining employment.

This initiative will be a private sector response to prevent rapidly escalating culinary student loan defaults from becoming chronic, debilitating vocational unemployment. According to The National Restaurant Association, there is an actual high demand for culinary graduates; therefore this program seeks to bridge the gap between those open job opportunities and the nation’s unemployed culinary graduates by providing a clear path to employment, at no cost to the graduate.

The Culinary Coalition program will have two components:
1) An individualized assessment of the graduate’s skills and knowledge. Once qualified, the Culinary Coalition will seek to obtain employment for the graduate, regardless of loan status or school attended.

2) Supplemental training. If the assessment reveals gaps in the graduate’s skills but he or she demonstrates a strong work ethic and passion for the culinary arts, the Culinary Coalition will offer the graduate personalized training, whether as continuing education or on-the-job training.

The program is designed to operate at no cost to eligible graduates of any U.S. culinary school and is expected to be initially capped at 100 participants to be drawn from the New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and Miami areas. Additional openings and locations will be announced in 60 days.

“As designed, funding for the Culinary Coalition will come from the culinary and hospitality industries, especially those employers, educational institutions and agencies who agree that something needs to be done without waiting for the government to act,” said Dorothy Cann Hamilton, CEO and founder of The International Culinary Center, a leading top tier culinary school with an alumni network of more than 15,000 graduates, and founder of Hamilton Education Services, which was established to focus on vocational evaluations.

“What we want to do is empower people, to allow them to regain control of their lives and their careers so that they will find work, be able to pay back their loans, and have the lives they dreamed of when they started culinary school,” said Hamilton. “A reactive focus on debt-counseling and lawsuits are both poor substitutes for proactive job placement and mentorship. I’m not interested in pointing fingers, unless it is to direct a graduate towards a job opening that I know about.”

“One topic that continues to come up over and over is the difficulty in finding skilled professionals for our restaurants,” said José Andrés, James Beard Award-winning chef, one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, and recently named ambassador to the State Department’s Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Program. “I know the jobs are there -- it is simply a matter of making sure the students are well-prepared.”

“As we roll out our initiative, we welcome the participation of any business or organization interested in proactive efforts focused on helping graduates of any culinary institution to achieve their dreams. We also remind culinary graduates to beware of any rescue scams and anyone who asks for a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a defaulted loan,” said Andrés. Hamilton added, “There are no shortcuts to becoming a professional chef, but the first step in getting back on track is to get in touch with our organization and begin the conversation.”

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About Dorothy Cann Hamilton and The International Culinary Center
Dorothy Cann Hamilton founded the renowned French Culinary Institute in New York in 1984, recently re-named The International Culinary Center with its expansion of its famed Total Immersion(SM) method into Italian and Spanish cuisine. The International Culinary Center, which has a graduation rate of 92%, an average of 6.2 job postings for every graduate (based on 5,000 job postings in 2011), and exceptionally low student loan default rates, has graduated more than 15,000 career culinary professionals including Bobby Flay, David Chang and Dan Barber. In addition, Dorothy Cann Hamilton is the Chair Emeritus of the American Institute of Wine & Food and has previously served as Chairman of the Board of the James Beard Foundation. Hamilton has received numerous honors over her 40-year career in culinary education, including the prestigious Ordre National du Mérite (National Order of Merit Award) from the French government and the 2006, 2010 and 2012 IACP (International Association of Culinary Professionals) Award of Excellence for Best Vocational Cooking School.

About José Andrés and Think Food Group
José Andrés, one of the world’s most celebrated Spanish chefs, is the genius behind multiple dining concepts across America, including Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, China Poblano, minibar by josé andrés, and The Bazaar by José Andrés at The SLS Hotels in Beverly Hills and South Beach. He is co-founder of the innovative restaurant company ThinkFoodGroup, an international advocate and food policy spokesman in addition to teaching classes at Harvard University, George Washington University, and leading non-profit organizations such as DC Central Kitchen (where he is Chairman Emeritus) and World Central Kitchen (which he founded). Together with ThinkFoodGroup partner Rob Wilder , Andrés directly and indirectly employs some 2000 people nationwide. One of his favorite non-profit causes is DC Central Kitchen which provides basic entry-level kitchen training to the homeless and disenfranchised. Of its first class of 25 students, 100% were able to find a job following their training.

Media Contact:
For press inquiries, please contact: press(at)culinarycoalition(dot)com

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Agnes Hansdorfer
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