"I think if you talk to any chef and restaurant owner right now, there's not enough bodies out there to fill the needs of what they have," Mark Mistriner, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute said.
The growing tourism and hospitality industries in Western New York are on the hunt for talented workers, according to Mistriner. His students at NFCI are filling some of those open positions, but he says there's opening in both the classroom and the kitchen.
"Buffalo and Western New York has a great food scene," he said. "I think it's one of the best in the country. We have a lot of really good, high quality restaurants. Chef driven. Owner driven."
Stephanie Haak was one of those students. But, she didn't take a job in the field. Instead, she started her own business.
"You create a lot of ties there and connections between people," Haak said of NFCI. "They've helped me a lot along the way. The chefs there, they've given me so much knowledge and we're still in contact."
She opened Haak's Cakes in 2017 and the 23-year-old has grown the business enough to earn a good living. She hopes the training from NFCI and her own talent can help her one day open her own storefront.
The NFCI offers 2-year associate's degrees in baking and pastry arts, brewery operations, culinary arts, distillery operations, hospitality management and wine and beverage operations. You can learn more about the programs here.