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Chef Visits BOCES Culinary Students in Yorktown

YORKTOWN, N.Y. — Culinary students at Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES already get hands on kitchen experience in their classes, but Friday brought in new and experienced hands to teach them the cuts of a trade.

Chef and restaurateur Peter Kelly shared his experiences opening up restaurants of his own.  He explained to the students that his goal is to not just meet, but also to exceed his customer’s expectations 100 percent of the time.

“A customer walks in the front door and walks out the same door some time later,” Kelly said. “If they haven’t been changed by the experience of dining in our restaurant, we’ve failed.”

The chef told the students his process of becoming a chef, which didn’t include classes at a culinary institute and how although he’s opened different restaurants he’s still always trying to improve.

“The bar is always rising,” he said. “You guys are getting an amazing education that people before you didn’t have. As an old guy, I have to be careful because young chefs are always nipping at my heels.”

The Marist College graduate who began working in restaurants at age 14 started his own restaurant at 23, and told the students the importance of their own ideas when it came to foods. Kelly, who is number 10 out of 12 children in a family from Yonkers, held several different kitchen positions in New York restaurants—before his culinary pursuits led him to France. Upon returning to the states, he opened his first restaurant called Xavier’s in Garrison.

The stories Kelly told of his own pursuits, as well as the way he runs a restaurant, gave the students insight into what they might want to pursue.

Di’ejha Bennett, an Ossining High School student who has not yet decided which part of the restaurant business most interests her, said she was encouraged by Kelly’s path to success.

“I liked that he began in the business or hospitality side of things and became a chef and was still successful,” she said. “It shows that you can make changes in the industry and still make it.”

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