Students Taste Success During Chef’s Night Out

Brick culinary students and their teachers were proud of their baking. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  LACEY – Another year, another sold-out crowd for Ocean County Vocational Technical School’s (OCVTS) 27th Annual Chef’s Night Out. Held at the Lacey Elks Lodge, the event served up far more than a feast for the senses.

  “Chef’s Night is held yearly as a fundraiser to raise money for scholarships, tools, and equipment for our students,” explained Karen L. Homiek, OCVTS’s Superintendent of Schools. “Everything goes right back to the students.”

  The concept appears to be a recipe for success, with the night’s proceeds exceeding an impressive $75,000.

  Beyond the promise of delectable treats and mouthwatering dishes, Chef’s Night served as a stage for showcasing the multifaceted talents of OCVTS students. High school students, who split their time between their hometown schools and honing their skills at OCVTS, were right in the thick of things.

Students prepared and served appetizers, entrees, and desserts. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  Kelsey McAllister of Lacey, Emily Menegus of Barnegat, and Daniel Sanchez of Point Pleasant Borough proudly stood in front of a display of artfully crafted desserts that almost looked too pretty to devour. All three enthusiastically spoke about the program, with Emily sharing her aspirations to pursue culinary school after high school.

  “I like the baking part of the program the best,” Kelsey said. “We also learn other culinary skills and have a dining room experience that gives a taste of the real restaurant world.”

  Daniel echoed Kelsey’s sentiment, highlighting the program’s collaborative nature. “The classes are about 20 people with separate sessions in the morning and afternoon,” he explained. “We all work on different projects together, and it’s a great way to learn and share ideas.”

  Beyond the dazzling displays of desserts, other high school culinary students, guided by their seasoned chef instructors, whipped up savory delights that left attendees clamoring for more. One runaway hit was bite-sized portions of scallops elegantly dressed in a tantalizing passion fruit sauce. Their visual appeal was matched only by their taste, as evidenced by the number of people seeking second helpings.

  The aroma of garlic overcame the venue and hinted at another gastronomic highlight – the work of Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis. This program serves as the culinary arts training center for OCVTS’s post-secondary students, who showcased their skills with a delectable cavatelli and broccoli dish featuring homemade macaroni crafted by hand.

  But the deliciousness didn’t stop there. More than two dozen eateries from across the county further tantalized taste buds with an irresistible array of diverse and flavorful delights. As attendees indulged in sampling various cuisines, they likely made mental notes of which establishments to add to their must-visit list in the future.

One of OCVTS’s post-secondary students hands out samples of a cavatelli and broccoli dish made onsite. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  The banners of numerous sponsors vividly showcased the steadfast support that Chef’s Night has garnered since its inception in 1996. The Foundation overseeing this culinary extravaganza was established in 1994 to guarantee a top-notch education for OCVTS students. This visionary initiative was brought to life by a coalition of corporate and community leaders in Ocean County, united in their commitment to shaping a promising future through education.

Desserts like these had great presentation as well as great taste. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  Beyond the sizzling stovetops and bakery items, OCVTS students also displayed their talents in other areas. Poised with professional cameras, participants in the school’s Design & Visual Communications program snapped up the energy and excitement of the event. As guests savored each bite, these budding photographers were on hand to capture the food and the people.

  Meanwhile, the event’s smooth operation also came from the efforts of cosmetology students, who lent a hand with setup and cleanup, ensuring a seamless experience for all.

Students prepared and served appetizers, entrees, and desserts. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  A gift auction held two items that truly stood out for the talent behind them. Nate Clark, a woodworking student, generously donated a handcrafted cornhole set. Additionally, a gift of a custom-made pair of Adirondack chairs wasn’t a solo project but a collaborative effort by a group of students.

  “The 27th Annual Chef’s Night Out was a huge success and I want to thank everyone responsible for making this an unforgettable event for our district,” said OCVTS Foundation Event Coordinator Annie Sayers. “Our Chef’s Night Out Team outdid themselves.”

Karen L. Homiek, OCVTS’s Superintendent of Schools, said the students worked extremely hard for this night. (Photo by Stephanie Faughnan)

  “Whether you attend as a guest, volunteered, sponsored, or were a vendor, you are the reason so many students will have the chance to receive a scholarship to attend OCVTS, and make their dream a reality,” Sayers continued. “You are the ‘Dream Makers’ and I am humbled by your support. We are so proud to be able to provide our students with the best education possible.”

  OCVTS offers over 30 career training programs for high school students and adults, with applications currently open for September classes. To learn more about the programs and services offered, visit

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Stephanie A. Faughnan is an award-winning journalist associated with Micromedia Publications/Jersey Shore Online and the director of Writefully Inspired. Recognized with two Excellence in Journalism awards by the New Jersey Society of Professional Journalists, Stephanie's passion lies in using the power of words to effect positive change. Her achievements include a first-place award in the Best News Series Print category for the impactful piece, "The Plight Of Residents Displaced By Government Land Purchase," and a second-place honor for the Best Arts and Entertainment Coverage category, specifically for "Albert Music Hall Delivers Exciting Line-Up For 25th Anniversary Show." Stephanie can be contacted by email at