Culinary Arts Certificate training program enables those with disabilities to shine

SUNRISE, FLORIDA (MAY 14, 2024) – Student chefs enrolled in the Entry-Level Culinary Arts Certificate program at Arc Educates, a social enterprise of Arc Broward,  recently marked their graduation from the nationally accredited 16-week certification course for adults with disabilities and those with barriers to employment with a celebratory “Enchanted Renaissance Faire” luncheon for friends, family and Arc Broward supporters.

Students shared their passion for food and cooking while showcasing their skills and culinary creativity, handling everything from planning the menu to prepping and serving the meal. During the course, students gained an understanding of the workflow of professional kitchens and restaurants from talented professional chefs and faculty and learned important skills through hands-on instruction in a commercial-grade kitchen.

“Training young adults with disabilities to work in the culinary arts and teaching nutrition, food safety and work readiness skills is one of the most rewarding experiences in my career,” said Arc Educates Student Chef Instructor Christian Velez. A former executive pastry chef at The Ritz-Carlton and a past contestant on Food Network’s Spring Baking Championship, Velez started volunteering for Arc Broward a few years ago and became passionate about the nonprofit’s mission to provide opportunities for people with disabilities to realize their full potential.

Students completing the program will earn a certification in culinary arts, giving them an opportunity to build a career in a variety of food service settings including school cafeterias, assisted living facilities, healthcare, restaurants, catering, and grocery stores.

“I was told my daughter would not be able to function or learn anything because she was born premature and was diagnosed with autism and intellectual disabilities. Arc Broward gave us hope and made it possible,” said Frederline Lazare mother of Lynn Edouard, one of several students who completed the recent cohort of the 16 week entry-level culinary arts certificate program. “My daughter has learned so much over the four years she has been with Arc Broward. I am so happy for how much she has accomplished.”

Edouard also graduated from Arc Broward’s School of Hire program, which provides Broward County students with disabilities ages 18 to 22 with the opportunity to obtain career/workforce education, community-based instruction, and independent living skills.

Arc Broward provides opportunities for children and adults with disabilities to realize their full potential through a range of programs and services, including state-licensed and nationally accredited certificate programs in the Culinary Arts, Animal Care and Material Handling. For more information visit or call (954) 746-9400.