BETHEL — Sunday River Ski Resort and the Maine Department of Labor have joined to form a culinary apprenticeship program.

The program will allow 10 culinary professionals to get experience in on-the-job training at Sunday River.

A sponsor ceremony was held recently to make the partnership official. Sunday River became the 82nd sponsor to register in the Maine Apprenticeship Program.

“We’re proud to be a part of something where young folks can learn and grow,” John Butera, commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor, said. “It is a tremendous opportunity.”

Students will gain additional knowledge in class at Central Maine Community College in Auburn and Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. Once the apprentices are finished with the program, they’ll have the option of working at the resort. It’s a chance Jim Largess, vice president of Food and Beverage at Sunday River, is excited about.

“It’s mutually beneficial; it’s great to be able to give some people opportunities who want to grow,” Largess said. “We’re happy to do it because we’re going to gain from it and they’re going to gain from it.”

On top of working at one of Maine’s well-known resorts, students will get credit for upward of 50 percent of the cost of classroom instruction.

While many people involved in mentoring the young students understand they will eventually leave, they said they still feel assured to have a core of 10 students coming in.

“You know you’ll never retain 100 percent and you’ve got to understand that going in,” Executive Chef Steve Learned said. “If we can retain a fraction of it, it’s still favorable to constantly having to go out and search for someone hoping they have the qualified skills.”

Last year the Maine Apprenticeship Program aided 1,056 apprentices.

Jim Largess, vice president of food and beverage at Sunday River Ski Resort in Newry,  and Executive Chef Steve Learned in the Summit Hotel kitchen at Sunday River are looking forward to the culinary apprecticeship program the resort is partnering with. (Samuel Wheeler/Bethel Citizen)

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