American Samoa Culinary Academy graduates twenty-eight in historic first class

8/15/2011

Samoa News By Fili Sagapolutelefili@samoanews.com

Twenty-eight students yesterday received their Certificate in culinary arts during the American Samoa Culinary Academy graduation ceremony for the first ever culinary school in the territory, a project that the American Samoa Government hopes will ready local workforce for the hospitality industry.

Human Resources director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford had told Samoa News that among the training programs the government was looking at for the American Samoa National Emergency Grant (ASG-NEG) was a cook's training school to be set up here.

Last year the Procurement Office awarded locally based Niu School of Culinary Arts as the firm to provide a Culinary Training School for the amount of $513,730, under part of the National Emergency Grant (NEG) program from the U.S. Department of Labor following the Sept. 29, 2009 disaster. The NEG grant was put in place to help displaced workers.

According to the project RFP, the bid winner is to operate the school for a minimum of two years, provide culinary training for a minimum of 60 American Samoa National Emergency Grant (AS-NEG) eligible participants; follow a curriculum of instruction that is consistent with the requirements for national certification; and provide its students an opportunity to obtain a nationally recognized certificate.

During his remarks at yesterday's graduation, the academy's chief instructor Chef Laautuvanu Sualua Tupolo told the audience that the school started out with the name Niu School of Culinary Arts, adding that Niu is a name recognized throughout the Pacific.

"But then we wanted to bring it closer to home" he said, and ended with the current name. Chef Laautuvanu explained briefly what's involved in the school, with students going through "elementary basic training" where they learned among other things, how to cook meat, how to prepare vegetarian meals, learn the different type of dough. They even learned ice cream making, "so that we can start to fill the standards in American Samoa in our restaurants."

Laautuvanu asked for everyone's support as the academy moves on to build the curriculum into an intermediate level curriculum, then to an advance curriculum, and eventually to accreditation for a degree program in the culinary arts.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono called yesterday's graduation history in the making, with the first culinary school in the territory as well as the first group of graduates from this type of school, providing graduates for the local hospitality industry.

He thanked Laautuvanu for utilizing his expertise in this profession, adding that many people look down on the job of being a cook. He said sons and daughters of American Samoa do not want to get into this profession and they look down on this type of job.

However, he pointed out the work background for Laautuvanu, whose position as a "chef" has taken him to other parts of the world and cited an example, where Laautuvanu traveled to Zimbabwe, to replace a chef who was on vacation for three months.

"All because he knows how to prepare good food," the governor said and encouraged locals to get into this profession.

According to the governor, "business owners have cried out for the need to find people to fill jobs" in the hospitality industry "yet we have no vehicle to provide the service that they so badly needed" - referring to the lack the lack of a culinary training school.

He said he offered to use the big kitchen at the Mauga o Alii - the Governor's Official Residence - to start the school when the idea was first raised by Laautuvanu, because of the dire need. He thanked Laautuvanu for his "vision".

The governor said the establishment of the culinary school was something that didn't happen overnight.

He noted one of the major setbacks in the past was the lack of funding to get this project moving forward, but when there was funding available through NEG, it was clear that it was time to make this project a reality.

Togiola said the goal of this school is to educate local residents so they are able to fill local jobs in the hospitality industry and if there are off-island jobs, graduates from the school are able to travel off-island for job opportunities, because it will still benefit the territory with the money these individuals send home to their families.

Prior to the graduation, Togiola said there were already 15 positions in the hospitality industry offered to the school from local businesses.

The ceremony ended with the presentation of certificates to the graduates followed by a tour of the facility, which is located at the Fa'atamali'i Center in Malaeimi.

Samoa News/Le Lali reporter Ausage Fausia contributed to this report.

Twenty-eight students yesterday received their Certificate in culinary arts during the American Samoa Culinary Academy graduation ceremony for the first ever culinary school in the territory, a project that the American Samoa Government hopes will ready local workforce for the hospitality industry.

Human Resources director Evelyn Vaitautolu Langford had told Samoa News that among the training programs the government was looking at for the American Samoa National Emergency Grant (ASG-NEG) was a cook's training school to be set up here.

Last year the Procurement Office awarded locally based Niu School of Culinary Arts as the firm to provide a Culinary Training School for the amount of $513,730, under part of the National Emergency Grant (NEG) program from the U.S. Department of Labor following the Sept. 29, 2009 disaster. The NEG grant was put in place to help displaced workers.

According to the project RFP, the bid winner is to operate the school for a minimum of two years, provide culinary training for a minimum of 60 American Samoa National Emergency Grant (AS-NEG) eligible participants; follow a curriculum of instruction that is consistent with the requirements for national certification; and provide its students an opportunity to obtain a nationally recognized certificate.

During his remarks at yesterday's graduation, the academy's chief instructor Chef Laautuvanu Sualua Tupolo told the audience that the school started out with the name Niu School of Culinary Arts, adding that Niu is a name recognized throughout the Pacific.

"But then we wanted to bring it closer to home" he said, and ended with the current name. Chef Laautuvanu explained briefly what's involved in the school, with students going through "elementary basic training" where they learned among other things, how to cook meat, how to prepare vegetarian meals, learn the different type of dough. They even learned ice cream making, "so that we can start to fill the standards in American Samoa in our restaurants."

Laautuvanu asked for everyone's support as the academy moves on to build the curriculum into an intermediate level curriculum, then to an advance curriculum, and eventually to accreditation for a degree program in the culinary arts.

Gov. Togiola Tulafono called yesterday's graduation history in the making, with the first culinary school in the territory as well as the first group of graduates from this type of school, providing graduates for the local hospitality industry.

He thanked Laautuvanu for utilizing his expertise in this profession, adding that many people look down on the job of being a cook. He said sons and daughters of American Samoa do not want to get into this profession and they look down on this type of job.

However, he pointed out the work background for Laautuvanu, whose position as a "chef" has taken him to other parts of the world and cited an example, where Laautuvanu traveled to Zimbabwe, to replace a chef who was on vacation for three months.

"All because he knows how to prepare good food," the governor said and encouraged locals to get into this profession.

According to the governor, "business owners have cried out for the need to find people to fill jobs" in the hospitality industry "yet we have no vehicle to provide the service that they so badly needed" - referring to the lack the lack of a culinary training school.

He said he offered to use the big kitchen at the Mauga o Alii - the Governor's Official Residence - to start the school when the idea was first raised by Laautuvanu, because of the dire need. He thanked Laautuvanu for his "vision".

The governor said the establishment of the culinary school was something that didn't happen overnight.

He noted one of the major setbacks in the past was the lack of funding to get this project moving forward, but when there was funding available through NEG, it was clear that it was time to make this project a reality.

Togiola said the goal of this school is to educate local residents so they are able to fill local jobs in the hospitality industry and if there are off-island jobs, graduates from the school are able to travel off-island for job opportunities, because it will still benefit the territory with the money these individuals send home to their families.

Prior to the graduation, Togiola said there were already 15 positions in the hospitality industry offered to the school from local businesses.

The ceremony ended with the presentation of certificates to the graduates followed by a tour of the facility, which is located at the Fa'atamali'i Center in Malaeimi.

Samoa News/Le Lali reporter Ausage Fausia contributed to this report.



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