"The first thing we hear from the chef’s
mouth is, ‘If you’re here to be on TV,
then you should leave right now.’
That’s not why we’re in this industry. We’re
here because we love it. We don’t need the
publicity; that’s just part of the upside.”
That may sound more like boot camp than
student orientation, but for 21-year-old Emily
Strempke, it’s the reality of participating in
the Broadmoor’s Culinary Apprenticeship
Program—a three-year, American Culinary
Federation-certified education for those who
hunger for hands-on experience.
The Apprenticeship Program started
in 1995, when “we had a labor shortage in
Colorado Springs,” says C.W. Craig Reed,
director of F&B at the Colorado Springs resort.
“It was becoming difficult for us to recruit the
high level of talent that we wanted working in
our restaurants and hotel at the time, so we
decided to raise our own, if you will.”
The Broadmoor is the longest-running
Five-Star, Five-Diamond property in North
America—51 and 35 years, respectively. “Raising”
culinary talent who understand those lofty
stakes is just part of what makes the Apprenticeship
Program unique. For the budding chefs
taking part, it’s an alternative to traditional
culinary school at a fraction of the cost. “I was
going to spend $64,000 on culinary school, and
that didn’t include the lab fees or books,” says
Strempke, a third-year apprentice.
The Broadmoor’s program is $3,300 for
three years, with a fourth-year option that
focuses on baking and pastry at no additional
cost. Tuition is kept low through annual
fundraising dinners, one of which is prepared
entirely by apprentices.
Students are also treated as employees;
they receive a bi-weekly paycheck and average
around 40 work hours per week. “Every six
months we give them a raise,” says Executive
Chef Siegfried Eisenberger. “They actually get
paid instead of just paying for school, and we
supply the knives and books too.”
Once a week, apprentices travel to Warren
Tech in Lakewood, near Denver, for five hours
of kitchen classroom training in courses such
as food safety, nutrition, and management.
At the end of three years, an apprentice will
have dedicated more than 6,575 hours to the
program, rotating every three months through
each dining venue at the Broadmoor, including
nine restaurants and all banquet and catering
facilities. They also spend several weeks in the
butcher shop and work the front of the house
“We learn from different chefs in a variety
of settings, ranging from Five-Star, Five-
Diamond all the way to our cafeteria. We know
how to cook for different people and how to
sell the menus to different types of customers.
That’s something I probably wouldn’t get in a
college setting,” says 24-year-old Amanda Sinclair,
who finished her apprenticeship in 2010
and is now in Aspen working in pastry.
The Broadmoor has 30 apprentices at any
given time, and that number can fluctuate due
to attrition with first-year students. A class of 15
can drop to 10 or 11, for example, once the gravity
of day-to-day culinary duties sets in, along
with not being able to take breaks on days when
they have to make the nearly three-hour round
trip to Warren Tech for class.
“Sometimes I’ll have a shift in the bakery
from 3 a.m. to 11 a.m.,” Strempke explains.
“I’ll go home and take a nap, wake up, get to
school at 5 p.m., and get back home around
11 p.m. Then I have to be back at work at 3:00
Reed says it’s “like they’re going to college
and beginning their first job at the same time.
They’re not only accountable for their job performance,
but also for mastering each kitchen
‘station’ as they move through our operation.
To help them stay on track, we’ve set up mentor
programs, where they meet monthly with an
assigned Broadmoor chef to review and work
through any challenges.”
Apprentices work alongside externs from
nationally recognized culinary schools, and
apprentices joke that there’s a friendly rivalry
between the two camps. But Eisenberger says
sometimes it’s no contest.
“When we put [some externs] on a hot line
and the orders are piling up, they freeze—they
just don’t have the experience. Our apprentices
are usually quicker.”
Apprentices who complete the program will
earn a Certified Cook title from the ACF and
a Journeyman Cook certificate from the U.S.
Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship.
Also, through coursework and successful
testing, each apprentice receives a ServSafe
certificate for sanitation, a certificate in nutrition
recognized by the National Restaurant Association,
and a foodservice management certificate
recognized by the ACF.
“The Apprenticeship Program is definitely
something you have to know you want to do,”
says 19-year old Nathaniel Juevera, a first-year
apprentice. “It gives you humility before you
start your career, and you can’t go into it like
you’re going to be a famous chef. It keeps you
humble before you reach bigger successes.”
Michael Costa brings culinary school education, a
background in hotel foodservice, and years of professional
journalism experience to his position as Industry
Relations Editor for HOTEL F&B.