Food & Drink

Press Releases

Culinary Training Facility Opens at Project Self-Sufficiency

Philanthropist Kristi Adams cuts the ribbon on Project Cafe at Project Self-Sufficiency.

Project Self-Sufficiency has offered a variety of workplace training programs since its inception 30 years ago, from pre-apprenticeship training for non-traditional careers to fiber optics to office skills.  The organization’s latest initiative, Project Café, marries its longstanding focus on workplace excellence with curriculum designed to train students of all ages in the skills needed to successfully navigate a commercial kitchen.  The program was cooked up after the donation of a commercial oven by longtime Project Self-Sufficiency supporters Sue and Greg Murphy, followed by input from local chefs Andre de Waal and Kirk Avondoglio.  Financial support was gleaned from a wide range of donors and philanthropic organizations.  The kitchen will make use of the produce harvested from the seven community gardens on the expansive Project Self-Sufficiency campus.  Community members who might be in need of a commercial kitchen can also take advantage of the space to create their own culinary projects.  Plans are in the works to offer daily meals at nominal costs to local residents, students and Project Self-Sufficiency participants and staff.


“We had heard about some of the good work that Project Self-Sufficiency had been doing in the community and when we sat down with Deborah Berry-Toon to discuss her goals, this project came up.” offered Project Café supporter Kristi Adams.  “We thought Project Café was a great way to expand additional job-training services as well as a way for Project Self-Sufficiency to engage with the community a bit more.”  Initial plans for the culinary program revolve around workplace training.  Eventually, organizers hope to be able to provide meals at a nominal charge for members of the community.


Local chefs Andre de Waal and Kirk Avondoglio provided instrumental insight into the workings of a commercial kitchen.  “I gave them advice about the layout of a commercial kitchen,” noted Andre’s Lakeside Dining owner and Executive Chef de Waal, who is looking forward to helping with the instruction of future Project Café students.  Avondoglio added that he offered guidance regarding equipment needs and Board of Health requirements.  “There will always be a need for well-trained staff in a restaurant,” explained Avondoglio, Executive Chef at Perona Farms.  “This definitely fills a need in the community.”

Sign Up for E-News


“Project Café is an innovative program that will provide hands-on-training and experience to unemployed adults in the county who want to enter the hospitality industry,” added Project Self-Sufficiency supporter Peggy Post.  “We are delighted to have been able to support Project Self-Sufficiency with this project and their continuing mission to help individuals and families in Northwest New Jersey to achieve self-sufficiency and economic stability.”


According to the National Restaurant Association, restaurant industry employment is growing at a quick clip.  The industry is the second-largest private sector employer in the United States.  By 2027, the industry will add 1.6 million more jobs.  As an institution which already trains potential employees for a variety of workplaces, Project Self-Sufficiency is poised to take advantage of this employment trend notes Executive Director Deborah Berry-Toon.  “With a state-of-the-art commercial kitchen in place on our campus, Project Self-Sufficiency will be able to provide all aspects of training for restaurant industry employment.  We are looking forward to partnering with our colleagues at Sussex County Community College to develop a comprehensive curriculum, and we are grateful to all of those who have worked so diligently to develop this facility.”


“This collaboration with Project Self-Sufficiency is a real advancement for our culinary program,” explained Dr. Jon Connelly, President, Sussex County Community College.  “Opportunities to work in this kitchen will allow our students to practice in a realistic setting that they may experience in catering and conference-event contexts.  In addition, as a result of the onsite gardens at Project Self-Sufficiency, students can practice some principles used in the garden-to-plate models of the food industry.”


Using fresh, organic produce harvested directly from the community gardens at Project Self-Sufficiency is just one of the goals for Project Café.  Front Porch Organics owner Mary Hyde donated produce for the ribbon-cutting event and is looking forward to helping with cooking classes and nutrition education once Project Café gets underway.  “At Front Porch Organics, our goal is to provide healthy, nutritious, organic food to as many people as possible and to help the community.  When you really believe in something, you want to help,” noted Hyde, who has been a Project Self-Sufficiency supporter for many years.  “Project Self-Sufficiency doesn’t just put a bandage on the problem, they help fix it by helping people get back on their feet, get the training they need, and get back to work.”


Funding for the project was received from The Prigmore Family Foundation; Janet and Frank Allocca; Frances Gould Naftal and Marvin Naftal, Flatbrook Farm; Front Porch Organics; Beverly and Bruce Gordon; Sue and Greg Murphy; and Margaret and John Post.


Project Self-Sufficiency is a non-profit organization which has been assisting low-income families in northwestern New Jersey along the path to economic self-sufficiency since 1986.   Services include career guidance and assessment, computer classes, HSE instruction, parenting workshops, childcare, legal assistance and education, help with emergency basic needs such as clothing and food, health education, support groups, life skills classes, family activities, home visitation, and more.  For more information about Project Café, or any of the other programs and services offered by Project Self-Sufficiency, visit or call 973-940-3500 or 844-807-3500.


TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


Sparta Police Scoop Up Three on Outstanding Warrants

March 21, 2018

SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Police Officers have picked up three people on outstanding warrants recently in unrelated traffic stops.

On March 20, around 7:30 p.m. Sparta Police Officer Erick Finley stopped 25-year-old Newark resident Crystal Dejesus for a broken tail light on her silver Toyota.  Finley found Dejesus had an outstanding warrant from Alpine Municipal Court, police ...

Sparta Police: Car Crash Leads to Warrant Arrest

SPARTA, NJ –  A car going too fast for the snowy road conditions crashed on Route 15.  No one was injured in the one car crash but the driver, Melvin Pineda-Castro of Plainfield, 27, was taken into custody.  On March 13 around 6:30 a.m. Sparta Police Officer Ben Griffin arrived at the scene, according to police.

Pineda-Castro had lost control of his black Honda CRV, hit ...

Sparta Police: Failure to Keep Right Ends with Two in Jail

SPARTA, NJ – Two people from Dingman’s Ferry are facing charges for drugs and other issues after a traffic stop on Route 15.  On March 16 around 12:45 a.m. Cpl. Marc Rubino stopped Cory Parker, 34, for failing to keep right, police report.

The officer smelled raw marijuana when speaking with Parker in the red four door Ford.  The passenger, 35-0year-old Lindsey Hutchinson ...

5 Tips for elected officials

March 9, 2018

Dear Editor,

Wayne Levante, a self-described moderate, business-friendly mayor of Newton since his appointment 8 months ago, has been mired by one misstep and controversy after another.  From peddling debunked conspiracy theories about student “crisis actors” in the Parkland, Florida mass school shooting on social media, attacking residents and calling them ...


March 11, 2018



Republican Freeholder Candidates, Dawn Fantasia and Josh Hertzberg commended the District 24 Legislators for taking action in the wake of the horrific school shooting that took the lives of 17 at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.   


Senator Oroho, Assemblyman Space and ...

Upcoming Events


Sat, March 24, 9:30 AM

Sparta Recreation Department, Sparta

Breakfast with the Easter Bunny

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 10:30 AM

Dykstra Park, Sparta

UNICO Easter Egg Hunt

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

McKenna Hall, Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta

Night with NJ Giants #53 Harry Carson Beefsteak


Sat, March 24, 6:00 PM

Perona Farms, Sparta

Trout Unlimited Annual Fund Raising Banquet

Arts & Entertainment

Sun, April 8, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River



Fri, April 13, 5:00 PM

Sparta High School Auditorium, Sparta

2nd Annual Jazz Festival at Sparta High School

Arts & Entertainment


Sat, April 14, 9:00 AM


Jr Lions Football - Meet & Greet

Education Sports

Sun, April 22, 1:00 PM

Van Kirk Homestead Museum, Sparta

Life Along the Wallkil River


Newton’s Spring Street Turned Green for a Day for St. Patrick’s Day Parade

March 19, 2018

NEWTON, NJ—Despite the semi-chilly weather, residents from Newton, Sparta, Andover, Green, and all over Sussex County gathered on Spring Street, dressed in green for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

This year was Sussex County’s 15th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and had over 941 people marching in it, 79 vehicles, six floats and about 45 animals.

The ...

6 Easy Ways to Increase Zzzz’s During National Sleep Awareness Month and Beyond!

Team Nest Builder knows sleep deprivation leads to a myriad of problems, so we’re here to help you make your New Jersey home bedrooms the havens you deserve! Take a look at these simple ideas for increasing your zzzzz’s:

Soften Up

Employ a large area rug that covers the entire room to help absorb sound and enhance comfort.

Feeling Blue

According to a study by Travelodge, ...

4 Top Reasons NOW Is A Great Time To Buy A New Jersey Home

Team Nest Builder offers four great reasons to consider buying a home today instead of waiting:

Prices Continue to Rise

CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Index reports that home prices appreciated by 6.6% over the last 12 months. The same report predicts prices will continue to increase at a rate of 4.3% over the next year.  The bottom in home prices came and left. Home values will ...


AtlantiCast: Episode 13

On this episode of AtlantiCast, new clinical studies in the fields of cardiology and immunotherapy, national and statewide recognitions for Atlantic Health System medical centers and the inaugural AtlantiCast Collab Challenge!


The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video

NEWTON, NJ - The Sussex County Board of Chosen Freeholders March 14 2018 meeting video.


Sussex County NOW Co-Sponsoring the March for Our Lives Newton

March 21, 2018

NEWTON, NJ - On Saturday, March 24th at 12PM, Sussex County NOW will proudly stand in solidarity with our co-sponsors, the Vernon High School Young Advocates Club and all of the other young leaders, both locally and nationally, who have organized a movement in the wake of the Parkland, FL school shooting to demand that students’ lives and safety finally take priority over the concerns of ...