In-house competition highlighting shrimp and crab

Culinary Program

JVL’s Bronx campus, in the historic Bank Note Building, is located in the midst of the poorest congressional district in the country where half the population lives below the poverty line.  Approximately three million New Yorkers live in communities without enough access supermarkets – “food deserts”- according to a 2018 study conducted by the New York Department of City Planning.

Despite such a challenging environment, JVL’s Culinary Internship program, at its Bronx campus, has proven to be highly successful at teaching its students how to work interactively while simultaneously learning employability skills in the kitchen setting. It also is a major reason participating students are motivated to remain in school.  For example, JVL’s students learn much more than cooking and the skills needed to work in a restaurant.  The Culinary Program Curriculum satisfies industry standards in nutrition, hygiene, safety, kitchen inventory, and budgeting while also building business skills, character and good work habits. Culinary students are highly motivated to sit for the Food Handler's License. Currently 8 students have passed the computer section of the course.

The students have the opportunity to practice these skills at the “Wildcat Café” a full restaurant-style kitchen and dining area.  They work together to prepare a delicious cuisine that is enjoyed by Wildcat students and staff, community members and by the employees of the businesses housed in the Bank Note Building.  The aspiring chefs also prepare meals for catered events and annually work side by side with top chefs at the Hotel Pierre at a well-attended gala.

 Many of JVL’s students, having won city-wide culinary school competitions, not surprisingly, now work in the industry.

Hydroponics Program

Responding to a vision of a more promising future, JVL students took concrete action to better their lives through our “green” initiative, by participating in an urban farming funding challenge to create the most innovative hydroponic garden.  Representing New York City, the JVL Hydroponics Team’s hydroponic garden was judged a winner, with the team being rewarded with a trip to San Francisco as a highlighted guest at the 2013 National Indoor Gardening Expo.  Mayor Bloomberg proclaimed June 11, 2013 “Urban Farm Education Day,” the day the winning garden was presented to the public for the first time. 

 In JVL Wildcat’s Hydroponics program, students create vertical green walls and window gardens in a closed-loop system that insures nutrients stay within the system and that there is no run-off. The system is disease and pest free.  The garden is used to support the school’s culinary program and encourages healthy eating and living through urban gardening.  Students are growing rainbow and Swiss chard, tatsoi, red veined sorrel and purple mizuna for the first time.  They are able to plant, grow and eat them all within a 20-foot span.  A skylight provides supplementary lighting to the gardens and enables students to go from growing table, to kitchen, to dinner table with no carbon footprint, no pesticides and no waste.