11/26/14 12:09pm
11/26/2014 12:09 PM
Matthew Kollmeier of Northport (right) and Jason Thomas of Riverhead carving up some of the over 250 pounds of roasted turkey. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Matthew Kollmeier of Northport (right) and Jason Thomas of Riverhead carving up some of the over 250 pounds of roasted turkey. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Culinary arts student Jason Thomas of Riverhead is volunteering to make Thanksgiving dinners for seniors in need as part of Suffolk Community College’s Community Arts program.

“This is hospitality. It is what we do, we are chefs,” he said as he was carving up one of the roasted turkeys in the school’s kitchen early Wednesday morning.  (more…)

07/29/14 2:48pm
07/29/2014 2:48 PM
The Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts Knowledge Bowl team consists of: (from left) faculty advisor Andrea Glick, Lynn Bohlen, Vincent Sperling, team captain Satoko Matthews, Lillian Senior and team manager Sherry Mazze. (Credit: SCCC courtesy)

The Suffolk County Community College Culinary Arts Knowledge Bowl team consists of: (from left) faculty advisor Andrea Glick, Lynn Bohlen, Vincent Sperling, team captain Satoko Matthews, Lillian Senior and team manager Sherry Mazze. (Credit: SCCC courtesy)

There’s more to cooking than just following a recipe or throwing some ingredients into a pot. In fact, even budding chefs need to be aware of numerous technical terms and procedures.

The Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Team was tested on many of those facts at the American Culinary Federation’s National Culinary Knowledge Bowl.  (more…)

03/04/14 10:00am
03/04/2014 10:00 AM

Riverhead grads Marta Czaplak (left) and Naysha Trent led Suffolk to a 17-7 record this season. (file photos)

Two Riverhead High School graduates helped lead the Suffolk Community College women’s basketball team to a 17-7 record this season, capped by a trip to the Region XV Championship Game Sunday.  (more…)

07/19/13 8:00am
07/19/2013 8:00 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Michael Conlon, who is deaf and blind, received this portable braille display machine, called Braille Sense U2, in May to use inside the classroom.

If you wanted to find out about turtle doves, chances are your first move would be to search for information online. To experience how Michael Conlon learned about them last Thursday on his home computer, try closing your eyes and covering your ears.

Mr. Conlon, 30, of Manorville, is a deaf and blind student at Suffolk County Community College Eastern Campus. He was born without retinas and uses digital hearing aids because he’s been substantially deaf all his life.

To show how he recently learned how to surf the Internet, Mr. Conlon demonstrated a new machine he received two weeks earlier by Googling turtle doves.

“About 670,000 results,” Mr. Conlon said as he brushed his fingers across a refreshable braille display.

Mr. Conlon picked the first result, Wikipedia, but didn’t click on it with a mouse or touchpad: To make the selection, he navigated through the computer using Job Access with Speech technology, known as JAWS.

The software also read all of the text displayed on the screen to him aloud, syncing with his braille-display machine rapidly changing like a pinscreen toy.

“I’m already becoming comfortable using the program,” he said as the computer read him the Wikipedia entry about turtle doves. “I’m still learning how to use it. I like it because it allows me to hear what the computer is saying and it also allows me to read the braille display in case I don’t understand what the words are.”

In the past, his teachers had to send his handouts, quizzes and tests to a braille maker. Sometimes if they decided right before class to use certain material, Mr. Conlon was unable to access it.

His mother, Mary, said her son’s classmates from his anthropology course shared their notes with him because the professor didn’t use a textbook.

“It was all class notes,” she said about the course, which her son completed this past semester. “His hearing limits him, so there were people sending him notes. The kids are great.”

Two weeks before his finals, Mr. Conlon received a portable braille display machine to use inside the classroom. The Braille Sense U2 technology gives him instant access to Word documents and other forms of digital communication, including email, instant messages, calendars, spreadsheets and GPS.

The device enabled him to study material he wouldn’t ordinarily have had access to, because of the lag time in the braille process, from the notes his classmates took two days before the final.

Ms. Conlon, who has a background in accounting, and her husband, T. Michael, a retired Suffolk County prosecutor, said their son was only able to obtain the two new devices, which carry price tags in the thousands, through support from a Federal Communications Commission program that offers assistance to adults who are deaf-blind access to 21st century communications services. The program is called the National Deaf Blind Equipment Distribution Program, also known as iCanConnect.

Sue Ruzenski, who runs New York’s iCanConnect program through the Helen Keller National Center in Sands Point, said computer screen-reading software designed for the deaf-blind population was first developed in 1989 and the latest JAWS program costs around $1,000. Refreshable braille display devices can cost anywhere from $1,700 to more than $10,000, depending on its use and its size.

The newest version of the portable Braille Sense U2 device was released last July and costs about $5,600, she said.

Ms. Ruzenski said Mr. Conlon qualified for the iCanConnect program and received the new equipment at no charge because he met income guidelines.

“Mike is a shining example of why this program is so important,” she said. “Technology is enabling him to access a world of opportunity and connection with other people.”

There are approximately 2.1 million people across the country who are deaf-blind, Ms. Ruzenski said, many of them being senior citizens. She estimates between 75 to 100 deaf-blind people live on Long Island.

Ms. Conlon said she’s found it’s hard for blind-deaf people to make friends and believes the latest communication tools designed for their needs will open new doors for them.

Although getting used to the technology will take time, the Conlons said they’re grateful the program also provides training on how to use the devices.

“We’re looking forward to the future,” she said. “This is going to make life so much better.”

Mr. Conlon, who plays the piano and has fond memories of playing percussion instruments in a marching band, attended school in East Islip because the district there has a program for deaf-blind students. Although his passion is music, Mr. Conlon said he hasn’t decided which type of career he’ll pursue after finishing college next semester.

School has been challenging, he said, but he believes the new tools he’s been given will help him keep pace with his fellow classmates.

“Persevere is my favorite word,” he said.

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06/12/13 8:00am
06/12/2013 8:00 AM

Suffolk County Community College’s eastern campus will be home to a new $17 million health and sports facility, including an Olympic-sized indoor swimming pool, sooner than expected.

Construction on the roughly 49,000-square-foot facility for physical education and athletics courses will begin next year after funds were made available earlier than the expected start date in 2015, according to County Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk).

The health center will include two multi-purpose rooms, office space, a gymnasium, locker rooms, the pool, and strength training and aerobic rooms.

Half of the construction funding will be paid for by New York State, Mr. Schneiderman said, adding the facility will generate revenue for the college on weekends and evenings when used by outside groups for events.

The legislature’s Bipartisan Capital Budget Working Group, which Mr. Schneiderman chairs, pushed the construction funding up to 2014; the legislature approved the new funding plan at its June 4 meeting.

Construction is expected to finish in 2015.

“This facility will make our campus a complete campus like the two in western Suffolk,” Mr. Schneiderman said. “This facility will be a huge boost not only for the eastern campus of SCCC but for the entire East End community.”

Mr. Schneiderman said the center’s pool will be open to the public year-round.

“This will be the first public indoor swimming pool in the Town of Southampton and the need for a pool has been well documented for years,” said Legislator Schneiderman, adding the pool will “provide a safe place for our children to learn how to swim before they jump in the ocean.”

He also said local school districts can now set up swim teams and use the pool to train and compete.

05/08/13 1:00pm
05/08/2013 1:00 PM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO |  Luke Gustafson, a Hampton Bays senior, prepares his prize-winning dish at Suffolk Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center.

The kitchen was heating up at Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center in Riverhead Tuesday afternoon, where four high school student chefs were competing for a $1,500 scholarship to the culinary program.

Hampton Bays High School senior Luke Gustafson, 18, cooked the prize-winning dish: sliced chicken breast in a tomato-mushroom sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes and sautéed French green beans.

To make it to the competition, he and the other aspiring chefs had to compete against culinary students from their own high schools. The winner from each participating school then moved on to the SCCC competition.

Now in its fifth year, the contest was created to support student learning and encourage promising students. It’s also a way to show off the culinary talent Long Island has to offer.

Similar to the Food Network’s cooking competition show “Chopped,” the students were given a mystery basket full of ingredients — and 90 minutes to turn them into a delectable dish.

College instructors kept a watchful eye on the students from start to finish, judging them on cooking techniques, use of ingredients, cleanliness, presentation, taste and creativity. The secret ingredients: chicken, potatoes and fresh green beans.

“They are the most common. If they can take these items and make something good out of them, they’ve accomplished the task,” said Richard Freilich, director of SCCC’s culinary arts program. “We don’t want to make it too difficult; we really just want to see their skill level.”

Other competitors were Daniel Insoyna, 17, a Southold High School junior; Ruben Bernacet, 19, a senior at Bellport High School; and Charles Alifano, 17, a senior at Floral Park Memorial High School.

Each student was accompanied by a culinary teacher from his high school, who came along for support.

Luke and Daniel are both enrolled in the Eastern Suffolk BOCES culinary program in Riverhead, spending 2 1/2 hours per day, five days a week learning different aspects of cooking.

“We’ve used all of the ingredients before,” said BOCES culinary teacher Tom Hashagen, a resident of Shelter Island. “We do a lot of instruction with chicken because it’s the cheapest thing to use. I told the kids it’s what they would probably have.”

Mr. Hashagen described Daniel, who took second place in the competition, as a quick learner. “He’s one of those kids that, once he comes in, you know he’s going to be good,” he said.

“Luke is sort of intense,” Mr. Hashagen continued. “He finds out what he needs to do and attacks it fairly well. He also shows some good leadership qualities we are trying to work on and foster.”

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04/17/13 9:00am
04/17/2013 9:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri Hampon appeared on the cover of a Suffolk County Community College campus magazine in 2012.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Demitri Hampon appeared on the cover of a Suffolk County Community College campus magazine in 2012.

A scholarship fund has been created in the name of Demitri Hampton, the Riverside man who was shot and killed during a home invasion on Jan. 27.

The DQH scholarship Fund had been founded by Demitri’s mother, Juanita Trent and will be awarded to Riverhead High School students who are attending Suffolk Community College, according to Sharetta Sims, who announced the scholarship at Tuesday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting.

She also announced a May 18 fundraiser for the scholarship called the First Annual DQH Memorial Picnic and 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament. It will be held at the Ludlam Avenue Park in Riverside from 2 to 8 p.m.

“Demitri was a very strong willed young man whose love for his family conquered all,” a release from Ms. Trent announcing the scholarship said. “Demitri was attending Suffolk Community College, Eastern Campus, studying criminal justice. He was scheduled to graduate May 2013. Demitri was also an aspiring actor and comedian. His love for his family and friends is what made him truly special. He was always pushing the people around him to do better and do more. For this reason we, Demitri’s family and friends, have created the DQH Scholarship Fund.”

Ms. Trent is asking local businesses to help the cause by either making a donation to the DQH Scholarship Fund or by donating an item to be raffled off.

“These donations will help others fulfill a dream that was snatched away from Demitri,” his mother wrote.

The donations are tax deductible and Ms. Trent asks that people submit donations on or before May 4. She said people can schedule to have your donation picked up by contacting her at 388-9052 or Jamal Davis, Demitri’s brother, at 355-8899.

People can contact the fund by mail at DQH Scholarship Fund, 57 Maple Avenue, Riverhead NY, 11901 or by email at [email protected].

[email protected]

01/12/13 10:00am
01/12/2013 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Ethan Crook (left), a culinary student and line cook at North Fork Table and Inn in Southold, with chef Stephan Bogardus.

Today’s college graduates are famously hard pressed to find a job during this historically sluggish economy.

Not so for Suffolk County Community College’s culinary school students and alumni.

Nearly 100 percent of the college’s culinary arts program graduates find work in the field, with many ending up in upscale commercial kitchens throughout the North Fork, said program director Richard Freilich.

“We don’t do placement, per se, but we do have connections with a lot of the local businesses looking to fill different types of positions,” Mr. Freilich said. “We try to find students that are best suited for those positions.”

He said the program’s job-placement successes are thanks in part to the internship program.

Students pursuing culinary degrees at SCCC are required to fulfill 200 internship hours with a restaurant, hotel or other business in the hospitality industry. These internships often turn into full-time positions, he said.

The Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center on Main Street in downtown Riverhead opened in 2008 with 135 students enrolled. The number has only grown since then, with 369 students in the fall class of 2012, said Mary Feder, director of college relations.

“There’s a great demand for our students, so we get calls all the time looking for experienced help,” said Mr. Freilich, noting that as part of internship work, baking students work at the college’s retail operation, The Baker’s Workshop, in the main culinary school.

“The input we get back from students is excellent,” Mr. Freilich said of the school’s hands-on approach to education. “They say had they not come here, they wouldn’t have gotten their job.”

Nobody knows that better than current student Courtney Rowehl. She got her job at the Plaza Café in Southampton by asking chef and owner Doug Gulij, who is one of her teachers, if she could do part of her internship at the well-known seafood restaurant.

“I’ve been there three years now,” Ms. Rowehl said, adding that being successful takes hard work and sacrifice, but the support of her teacher was important. “At Suffolk, there’s a core of teachers that know all the students by name, post jobs and will always push you to do harder internships. I wanted to do the fine dining thing, so I just went for it.”

And that’s exactly what culinary student Ethan Crook of Southold has been doing at North Fork Table & Inn since his internship began in July. He has since turned the apprentice role into a full-time position at the Southold four-star restaurant.

“Working here has definitely helped me progress as a cook in the sense of working more independently and confidently,” Mr. Crook said. “I try to do that as much as I can — to just go for it. I like Julia Childs’ quote, ‘In cooking you have to have a what-the-hell attitude.’ I feel like if you don’t just go for it, then you’re not going to learn how to do it. Sometimes Stephan will tell me that failure is when you learn.”

He’s talking about the restaurant’s rising young chef Stephan Bogardus, 24, of Southold, a former classmate of Mr. Crook’s at Mattituck High School.

Mr. Bogardus said he has enjoyed having students from different culinary schools intern at the restaurant in the past year, noting that Mr. Crook was the restaurant’s first intern.

“Having students from different schools, educations and abilities has helped me display what [executive chef] Gerry Hayden and [acclaimed pastry chef and co-owner] Claudia Fleming … have taught me, which is really what took me to the level I’m now able to achieve,” said Mr. Bogardus, who first joined the North Fork Table & Inn team after graduating in 2009 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y.

Though Mr. Crook, former cook at the Village Cheese Shop in Mattituck, wasn’t an entirely blank slate when he began his internship at North Fork Table & Inn, he said there was a steep learning curve associated with doing his first gig at a high-end restaurant.

“This is the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Mr. Crook, now a line-cook at the restaurant. “This is more than just a restaurant. It’s first and foremost a very passionate cooking kitchen. It’s very serious, but enjoyable; I really get a kick out it. I definitely see more types of food, greens and proteins than I think I would in a lot of places.”

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