BA Culinary Students Take Over Chef's Table

As the chill of winter still holds firm, the BA Culinary students from New England Culinary Institute put everyone in a summer time frame of mind. On Friday, March 21 the Chef’s Table above the NECI on Main restaurant in Montpelier opened under a new name; Bone Yard Barbecue. For one night only, the pop-up restaurant concept served a wide variety of authentic regional barbecues and smoked foods from around the U.S. and parts of Asia.

“My students have been working really hard to bring this authentic regional barbecue to Montpelier. We have such a diverse range of students that include representations for New Jersey, Kansas, Korea, and even Malaysia!” said Chef Jeffery Andre, the Instructor for the BA students.

Chef Andre tasked the students with creating, marketing, and opening a restaurant for a day as part of their Product Development and Entrepreneurship class. The students worked together on the menu, logo, marketing plan, and restaurant décor, learning the intricacies of what it takes to run a business. Without any true BBQ establishments in the capital city, the students created Bone Yard Barbecue to give Montpelier an opportunity to enjoy a range of succulent regional barbecues.

“The food is really shaping up to be some of the best barbecue I have seen! It is unfortunate that they are only open for the one night because I really feel like everyone should get a chance to try the Bone Yard.” says Chef Andre.

The culinary students were an instant success in the capital, serving nearly 100 guests. Pictures will be posted soon or you can visit the NECI Facebook page and see them in the photo gallery. Kudos to all of them on pulling off a hugely successful concept!


Ashley Summers ('07) opens Madeleine's Patisserie & Café

Ashley Summers ('07) recently opened her own bakery, Madeleine's Patisserie & Café, in Pittsfield, MA! From the article originally published in the Berkshire Eagle: (

PITTSFIELD -- While other little girls were busy collecting stickers, dolls and dress-up clothes, Ashley Summers was the one who collected espresso cups and café plates.

Today, if you go into her newly opened Madeleine's Patisserie & Café at 48 North St., you'll likely be served delectable baked goods and coffee with those very dishes the now 26-year-old Summers has been saving since she was a kid.

"I always knew I wanted to do something like this," said the pastry chef, a Lanesborough native and resident.

Her front-of-the-house manager and childhood friend, Nicole Wheeler, 26, of North Adams, vouched for Summers' youthful ambition.

Summers said that growing up, whenever there was a family gathering or special event, her family was known for bringing crowd-pleasing desserts. "I remember thinking, why couldn't this just be my job and why can't I do this all the time. It turns out, you can," she said.

Summers' recipe for success includes a mix of traditional and nontraditional practices.

She says she's been keeping a savings account for a future bakery since she took on her first job at age 14, bussing tables at The Olde Forge in Lanesborough.

She attended Mount Greylock Regional High School but left school to enroll in the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. There she earned an associates degree and an affinity for working with pastries and in particular, cakes.

Summers spent the next five years working everywhere, from Nantucket to New York to Charlottesville, Va. She cut her teeth learning everything from inventory and bookkeeping to creating recipes and sculpting fondant.

She then returned to New England Culinary Institute, earned her bachelor's degree, and took herself and her new credentials to work for Tina Tian of Couture Cakes in Chongqing, China.

A poster of one of the creations she worked on hangs in Summers' shop. It took Summers two weeks to craft the purple sugar blossoms that wind around the side of the multi-tiered beauty.

After her stint in China, Summers returned to the U.S. and worked in New York City at Richard Sanodval Restaurants, B. R. Guest Hospitality and Tavern on the Green.

She also appeared on the Food Network television competition called "Sweet Genius" with Master Pastry Chef Ron Ben-Israel. Summers, who was about six-months pregnant at the time, bested the other three competitors and took home a $10,000 prize from the episode, which aired Nov. 15, 2012.

Meanwhile, Summers brought her award and her newborn daughter Madeleine (named after a petite style of French cake), back to the Berkshires to finally realize her childhood dream of owning a bakery.

While working at For the Love of Pie, a bakery in New Lebanon, N.Y., Summers came across an ad for the former Ahava Amore Café space on North Street next to Shiro Sushi Lounge.

Using her savings and her show winnings, she signed the lease a week later and officially opened Madeleine's Patisserie & Café on Oct. 17 of this year.

The 620-square-foot space, which has an open kitchen design, came with restaurant equipment, a display case, counter space and two seating areas. Summers also plans to apply for a seasonal outdoor seating permit in the spring.

Her best friend and associate Nicole Wheeler, did the interior design.

"It's a rustic, French country kind of feel. We wanted to create an atmosphere to reflect what we do. Our foods are all homemade and organic and the service we do is very personalized and custom," said Wheeler. "We not only want to sell the food but sell the experience."

Wheeler described the shop's offerings as a "rotating menu of sweet and savory."

Summers does a 6 a.m. bake, which includes hand rolled stuffed croissants, scones, muffins, an assortment of cookies and daily special breakfast pastries. The shop's 11 a.m. lunch bake includes homemade chicken pot pies sold by the slice with housemade gravy, fresh mozzarella focaccia pizza, quiche and macaroni and cheese.

Madeleine's also carries challah, brioche, cheesecake, tarts, cupcakes in three sizes, pies, David's Biscotti (made in Pittsfield) and breakfast sandwiches on homemade biscuits or croissants. Gluten-free, sugar-free, and dairy-free options are available daily.

They serve New England Coffee, Lavazza espresso, homemade hot chocolates and house-brewed chai lattes and spiced cider. Other retail items include take-and-bake cookie and pizza dough, handmade gift cards, and cookie baskets and platters. They also sell cookie- and cupcake-making kits and seasonal stocking stuffers.

The bakery also specializes in custom orders for cupcakes, celebration cakes and wedding cakes. They also do baskets of baked goods for meetings and special events.

Breakfast and lunch items are $5 or less. Specialty cakes typically start around $20.

Summers and Wheeler both say they've received great support from fellow North Street proprietors, including some mentoring from Mary McGinnis of Mary's Carrot Cake.

"She's given us a lot of advice in terms of economic development," Summers said.

She said Madeleine's will also be a future host for First Fridays Artswalk artists. The shop has already participated in community events like the city's Third Thursdays and Berkshire Museum's Festival of Trees.

"It feels like everything I've been doing for the past 10 to 12 years was training for this moment," Summers said.




Not every chef who steps into the kitchen is ready for the challenge of competition in front of the camera. Tuesday night, New England Culinary Institute graduate Sean Quinn (’01) beat out the competition on the Food Network’s culinary competition show, Chopped. Quinn is also a graduate of C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program), a program designed to prepare high school students for college and career opportunities in the hospitality industry. The scholarship he received through C-CAP allowed him to attend New England Culinary Institute and eventually led him to become executive chef at Chadwick’s in Brooklyn, NY where he has been for 7 years.

After beating out the competition to earn a spot in the final round, Sean and three other chefs faced the daunting ‘mystery’ baskets yet again, relying on their experience, creativity and skill to create their dishes. As the “Chopped” champion, Sean received $10,000 which he donated to the C-Cap program to help others pursue their education in the culinary arts.

Winner of “Chopped” in 2012, NECI Executive Chef Jean-Louis Gerin congratulated Sean Quinn on his accomplishment “As a Chopped champion, I know the intensity and pressure one is under when opening the mystery basket. I won by staying focused, disciplined, and true to the fundamentals of cooking. The education that Sean received at NECI with intensive hands-on learning and a focus on fundamentals was a part of his win too. Congratulations to him.”

The rebroadcast of the final episode will be on November 28th at 9:00 pm on The Food Network.




NECI Alum, Soulayphet Schwader, Makes's Dining & Wine Section

Soulayphet Schwader (2001 AOS Culinary) and Marc Forgione have partnered up for a brand-new venture, Khe-Yo. News of the NECI alum’s new restaurant has made the Dining & Wine section of! The restaurant, which is located in NYC’s Tribeca neighborhood and scheduled to open next Monday, July 29, 2013, will be serving up Laotian-inspired Southeast Asian cuisine.


Join us for an evening with NECI's Executive Chefs, past & present!

We're hosting a gathering of alumni at Chef's Table in Montpelier on Tuesday, September 11, 2012 from 5:00 - 7:00pm.

Be our guest! Enjoy tapas and a selection of wine and beer while mingling with your fellow alums, NECI staff including new Campus Executive Chef Jean-Louis Gerin, MCF and Executive Chefs from NECI's past.
Chef Jean-Louis is looking forward to meeting you and hearing about your post-NECI experiences and successes.

Door prizes will include a stage by Jean-Louis at your restaurant and refresher courses with former NECI Executive Chef Robert Barral!

Consider spending the night at one of these area hotels at a special NECI alumni discount!

  • The Inn at Montpelier - 10% discount

  • The Capital Plaza - 10% discount

  • The Econolodge - $59/night

Please RSVP with the number of guests to by September 7, 2012.

We look forward to seeing you!



New England Culinary Institute Alumnus Is Named As A “Best New Pastry Chef 2012” by Food & Wine Magazine

Montpelier, VT – New England Culinary Institute alumnus Shawn Gawle has been named as a “Best New

Pastry Chef 2012” by Food & Wine Magazine.

Gawle graduated NECI in 1999 with an AOS degree in Culinary Arts. “For Shawn to have created such an impressive niche in the baking and pastry world with a culinary arts background demonstrates how imagination, creativity and fearlessness . . . coupled with knowledge of ‘the basics’ . . . can create unlimited possibilities,” said Fran Voigt, NECI Founder and CEO. “Shawn will no doubt have many more culinary successes in what will surely be a long and illustrious career.”

Food & Wine attributed Gawle’s success because he “combines modernist and classic techniques to create thoughtful, elegant, French-inflected desserts that often highlight Asian ingredients, like yuzu and cardamom.”

Formally trained as a savory cook, Gawle has spent years working in some of America’s most highly regarded kitchens with world-renowned chefs from Chicago to Philadelphia and New York City. His mastery of classic French technique has freed him to channel his creativity and push boundaries with his desserts. Gawle has been serving as Pastry Chef at NYC’s first class restaurant, Corton, since 2010. This most recent award from Food & Wine is the latest of many accolades.

New England Culinary Institute, founded in 1980, is widely recognized for its innovative immersion style of education featuring small classes, hands-on learning, and personal attention. Its graduates are sought after the world over for their level of skill and preparation. For more information on New England Culinary Institute, go to




Tournament Sponsor: Reinhart FoodService

Save the Date: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Hosted by:  The Country Club of Barre
New England Culinary Institute Serves Up Two Courses: Golf and Great Food

100% of net proceeds will provide scholarships to deserving culinary students.

On Wednesday, June 13, 2012, friends of New England Culinary Institute will gather at the Country Club of Barre to support the NECI Scholarship Fund. The tournament will be held in a scramble format with a shotgun start.
The tournament is limited to 120 players. The invitation list includes major corporations within the State of Vermont, vendors to NECI, and long-time NECI friends and supporters.

Entry Fee of $125 includes:

  • Greens Fees

  • Cart

  • NECI "Culinary Treats" on the course

  • Golfer Tee-bag

  • Awards Reception

  • Other Giveaways

Schedule of Events

10:30 am - Registration
12:00 noon - Shotgun start with box lunches
4:30 pm - Hors d'oeuvres lunches, four person scramble, silent auction

More Information: Tournament Poster | Sponsporship Flyer

The Scholarship

The NECI Scholarship Fund is a Vermont non-profit corporation organized to provide scholarships for students who attend New England Culinary Institute. Nearly 80% of incoming students receive some kind of scholarship aid. NECI scholarships are awarded to motivated, deserving students who may not otherwise be able to realize their dream of a culinary education.

An investment in a student through the NECI Scholarship Fund offers some of the best long-term return potential imaginable. The NECI Scholarship Fund not only forever changes the lives of the students who come here, its benefits ripple through entire communities for decades and generations to come. We need your help to encourage and prepare the food industry leaders of the future.

Read more about the NECI Scholarship Fund.

For more information, contact Elisabeth Bradley.


Be our guest at Bar Boulud in New York City on April 22nd

YOU ARE INVITED!Bar Boulud Event

Join us for an exclusive open house event at one of our premier internship sites -- Bar Boulud in New York City. You will meet NECI graduates and current student interns who are using this experience to accelerate their careers at this world renown restaurant.

Complimentary hors d'oeuvres and beverages will be served.


For questions please contact Chef Joey Buttendorf. or 877.223.NECI (6324) ext.3252


July Alumni Newsletter Excerpt - Where Are They Now?

On a quarterly basis, NECI reaches out to our diverse group of alumni with an update from the President, happenings from campus, alumni in the news as well as a "where are they now" component that highlights where some of the 6000+ NECI alumni are making waves. Here's the most recent addition, taken from the most recent edition of our alumni newsletter. Some links have been added so you can explore a bit deeper.

Culinary School Information

Where Are They Now?

Evan Randell (AOS, Culinary 2003) has opened a new restaurant with his brother, Justin in Farmingdale, NY. Positioned on Main Street in this Long Island town, Estelle’s Contemporary Smokehouse & Bar is serving fresh, seasonal foods including house-smoked ribs and chicken. They’re making everything in-house, right down to the croutons and sauces. They’re the only barbecue place in town, and with a large hickory smoker outside, it would be tough to walk away!

Brian Flanders (AOS, Culinary 1994) has taken on the role of Executive Chef at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, VT. Brian will be responsible for the culinary aspects of the resort’s banquets, events, and weddings. Additionally, he will oversee culinary operations for the Coleman Brook Tavern at Okemo’s Jackson Gore Inn. Brian has most recently been at the Stone House Resort & Spa in Rhode Island, and is excited to be back in VT.

B.J. (William) Brown (AOS, Culinary 2001) opened Bistro by the Beach for the 2011 beach season in Spring Lake, NJ. The restaurant, located in the Sandpiper Inn, is serving 3 meals a day for the length of the summer. Following the busy summer season, he’ll change the menu to reflect what is available fresh and locally. He and his wife will be running the show, with their son often seen running around.

Carmen Allen (AOS, Culinary 1985) has joined the Admissions staff here at NECI. Carmen will be our Visiting Chef to high schools in Maine, Vermont & New Hampshire to help in our recruiting efforts. She will be spending minimal time on campus in Montpelier, so let us know if you’d like her to come visit!

Fawn Wells Maxfield (AOS, Culinary 2001) has moved into the role of Catering Manager at NECI. Fawn has been an Event Coordinator in our Catering Department for the last several years. Her seemingly tireless nature makes her an ideal person for this role. She will be working with Kevin O'Donnell to solicit further catering opportunities as well as maintaining and improving existing relationships.

Terrence Gallivan (AOS, Culinary 2005) has formed the Pilot Light Restaurant Group with fellow Chef, Seth Siegel-Gardner in Houston, TX. While they’re still in the market for a bricks & mortar restaurant, they’re starting small by presenting three five-course meals at Houston’s Revival Market. The partners plan to focus the Revival Market’s fresh produce and high quality meats for their series of dinners at the local dining spot.


Congratulations to the 2011 NECI Graduating Classes!

Thanks to all of the attendees, students, faculty, organizers, distinguished guests, National Life and Mother Nature for a fantastic commencement weekend!


In Memoriam - Sandy Webb

Sandy WebbIt saddens me to report that Sandy Webb passed away at her home on Monday, May 23 after a long and courageous battle with cancer. Her family is planning private services.

Sandy began her relationship with the faculty, staff and students of New England Culinary Institute nearly 30 years ago when she was hired as the administrative assistant to key management. By the time she left in 2007, she was coordinator of student and alumni relations. Thousands of students passed through the kitchens of NECI during Sandy’s tenure. It is very probable that most of them were touched by her kindness and certain that many benefited from her ready ear and helping hand. A good number of alumni remained in contact with Sandy after she retired. She greatly appreciated the calls, cards and letters she received during her illness.

We have learned that Sandy asked that anyone wanting to make a donation support the Central Vermont Humane Society. They can be reached through their website at

A special NECI scholarship has been created in Sandy’s name. People interested in donating to the fund in Sandy’s memory can make donations through the NECI website. Contributions should be made to the NECI Scholarship Fund, Inc., in Sandy’s memory.

Messages of condolence can be sent to Mr. and Mrs. Jason Webb at 1636 Hill Street Extension, Berlin VT 05602.

— Fran Voigt


Zach Calkins - VP of Culinary Creations at Quiznos

How does a national sandwich chain like Quiznos arrive at their menu? Hear from Zack Calkins, who is their VP of Culinary Creations.


Our 2011 Commencement Speaker: Alton Brown

NECI is pleased to announce that the Commencement Speaker for this year's Graduation will be nationally-known television personality and NECI Alumnus Chef Alton Brown.


Michael Nowak: To Market He Will Go

Michael Nowak: To Market He Will Go

Michael is the chef of Bar Cento and soon to be chef of Market Garden Brewery & Distillery. Read about what he is up to, and his memories of NECI.


Check out Aki Kamozawa's new book, Ideas in Food

Check out Aki Kamozawa's new book, Ideas in Food

Aki Kamozawa (AOS Culinary Arts 1998) has a new book out, "Ideas in Food." Just published and getting rave reviews! Check it out:


Melissa Close-Hart Featured in Flavor Magazine

Melissa Close-Hart Featured in Flavor Magazine

Melissa (AOS Culinary Arts 1999) was recently profiled in Virginia's Flavor Magazine. Melissa is the Executive Chef of Palladio Restaurant, located at the beautiful Barboursville Vineyards.

Flavor Magazine asks, "Does Chef Melissa Close-Hart pinch herself when she arrives at work—a restaurant surrounded by vineyards, with a kitchen garden tended by a horticulturalist and ingredients raised by local farmers who plant to her specifications?"



Kelly Farrin crowned Maine Lobster Chef of the Year

NECI graduate Kelly Farrin (AOS Culinary Arts 2008) has been acclaimed the 2010 Maine Lobster Chef of the Year. Kelly won over the judges with his Herb Grilled Maine Lobster Tail on Arugula with Chive Ricotta  Gnocchi & Corn Milk. He was awarded his title by the Maine Lobster Council at the Harvest on the Harbor Festival in Portland, Maine, on October 23. Kelly is Sous Chef at Asure Cafe in Freeport, Maine.  Congratulations Kelly!  Check out the press release!


Martha Franklin is off to Turin, Italy

Martha Franklin is off to Turin, Italy

Martha Franklin (AOS Culinary Arts 1987) is off to Turin, Italy to attend Terra Madre 2010! Martha is a Chef Instructor at NECI and was chosen among thousands of applications to attend this biennial event. The five-day meeting brings together food communities, cooks, academics, youth and musicians from all over the world, who are united in a desire to promote sustainable local food production in harmony with the environment while respecting knowledge handed down over the generations. Martha promises to share stories of her trip when she returns!


Matt Jennings Featured in Food and Wine

Matt Jennings Featured in Food and Wine

Matt Jennings (AOS Culinary Arts 1998, BA Food & Bev Mgmt 2001) has been one of Food & Wine magazine's 40 Big Thinkers 40 & Under. Says Food & Wine: "These 40 up-and-comers — all 40 years old or younger — are changing the way Americans eat and drink."

Read the article


Amy Chamberlain Named 2010 Vermont Chef of the Year

Amy Chamberlain Named 2010 Vermont Chef of the Year

Amy Chamberlain (AOS Culinary Arts 1991) has been named the 2010 Vermont Chef of the Year by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce.  Amy is the Executive Chef/Owner of The Perfect Wife in Manchester, Vermont.


Matt Jennings is Featured in Yankee Magazine

Matt Jennings is Featured in Yankee Magazine

Check out what Matt Jennings ((AOS Culinary Arts 1998, BA Food & Bev Mgmt 2000) is doing!  Here's a great article in Yankee Magazine about him and his cheese shop, Farmstead, in Providence, RI.


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