Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education will be offering the third culinary arts cohort program later this fall. Marla Burnell of Fayette, a student in the last class, is seen preparing chicken pot pie filling at the Moose Hill Diner. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

LIVERMORE FALLS — Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education (SMACE) is planning a third culinary arts cohort program for later this fall.

Instructors for the program are Executive Chef Wayne Kregling and SMACE Director Robyn Raymond. Classes are held at SMACE, 9 Cedar Street, Livermore Falls.

Marla Burnell of Fayette completed the second cohort and now works at the Moose Hill Diner in Fayette. She has also purchased a food truck.

“It’s been my life long passion to cook professionally, be creative and try new things. I was reading an advertisement (about adult education programs) and it opened right to it. It was like a God sent message,” she said recently.

Burnell had worked for the State of Maine for 13 years. After her husband died, she had a difficult transition and made the decision to follow her passion.

“You never know what’s going to happen. You have to take a leap of faith, especially when a door opens. It felt like a ray of light,” she said.


Burnell said the biggest challenge for her was the size of the kitchen where classes were held. The tight quarters made it difficult to move around in.

“With six people and Wayne we got close. We’re now friends,” she said.

Burnell wishes more people and restaurants knew about the program.

“Maine needs the restaurant industry to thrive. So many restaurants need chefs and prep cooks.

Wayne is an incredible chef. To have him train and mentor people who have that passion was great,” she said.

Burnell said Wayne shared his personal experiences, not just book learning. He still keeps in touch with the former students.


She worked at Homestead Bakery, Bar and Kitchen in Farmington during the cohort. She loved the fast pace, and fancy culinary cuisine. She moved to the diner for its size and location closer to home for her.

“If you don’t love people or good food, this is not the business to be in. If you enjoy cooking for the family, this course can help anyone even if they don’t want to work in a restaurant,” Burnell said.

Kregling said he found the first session of 15 weeks to be too long.

“We went to 10 weeks, increasing the hours per week. It worked a lot better,” he said.

“More elaborate meals could be prepared,” Raymond said.

Kregling said the purpose of the classes is to fast track adults into the workforce. Students are provided with a Professional Cooking Book, the Manager’s Serve Safe book, a knife, a Mercer rule and a chef’s coat. The Manager’s Serve Safe certification test is part of the course. Five out of six students in the last cohort passed.


“The students get the book very early. We go over some stuff in class. They take an eight hour course. The students who went to Augusta for it were the only ones who had the book prior to the class. It really helped them,” Kregling said.

For the first few weeks, students learn classical vegetable cuts for garnishes and work on the five ‘mother sauces’ from which most other sauces can be made.

“You want consistency in sauces. Learning how takes one to two years in culinary school. I push them right in the beginning.

“There are 20 people here we can cook lunch for every day,” Kregling said. “We hit them with something different every day.”

Raymond said the students are certified with nationally recognized credentials so they can go anywhere to work.

“Five from the last cohort are employed. We have a great relationship with Western Maine Community Action, the Career Center and FedCap.


“FedCap is located in the Mt. Blue Shopping Plaza. It is a contractor service with a goal of breaking the poverty cycle. It helps pay for tuition,” she said.

Kregling said the students were taken on tours to Maine Grains in Skowhegan plus Uno Mas and Rustic Roots in Farmington.

“The students saw where their food comes from, how to use micro greens in cold and hot dishes,” he said.

Raymond said she does a number of classes on professionalism in the workplace, resume writing, cover letters and mock interviews. The students create a polished resume in Google Docs that can be updated for a specific employer.

Students are offered on the job training and work experience.

“The Career Center pays wages entirely during the on the job training portion, up to four weeks. It pays 50% of wages for up to three months of work experience while in school or afterwards.


It’s beneficial for students and employees. It’s a great way to get skilled employees and for students to find out what atmosphere they want to work in,” Raymond said.

Farmington D, LaFleur’s, Uno Mas, Calzalaio’s, Sodexo at UMF, Homestead, White Fox Taverna, Franklin Memorial Hospital, Moose Hill Diner and Tubby’s (Winthrop) have partnered with SMACE in the culinary arts cohort.

“It’s a great way for local businesses to attract high quality employees. They’re able to come to the table, say exactly what they need for employees. We can insert that in the curriculum,” Raymond said. “We’re looking for other restaurants to participate.”

The tuition for the next cohort is expected to be $2,500. Barriers to attending, such as transportation issues or child care coverage can be worked out.

For more information, visit the SMACE website http://rsu73.org/adult-education or call 897–6406.



Students in the culinary arts cohort offered through Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education receive several essential tools. One is this Mercer rule, a template for cutting vegetables and preparing sauces. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden








Executive Chef Wayne Kregling offers professional training in the culinary arts cohort program offered through Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education. Another cohort is planned for later this fall. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

Executive chef Wayne Kregling at left and Spruce Mountain Adult and Community Education Director Robyn Raymond discuss the culinary arts class that provides on the job training and restaurant work experience. Livermore Falls Advertiser photo by Pam Harnden

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