Home Uncategorized New England Culinary Institute: Interview with Alumnus Paul Winston

New England Culinary Institute: Interview with Alumnus Paul Winston


Part of The Bridge’s Higher Education Series

by The Bridge staff


The Bridge: Tell us about yourself

Winston: I am originally from Richmond, Virginia, but have lived in Vermont on and off for the past decade.  I graduated from NECI’s Culinary Arts Program in ’09 at the Essex campus. I have been in the industry for about 10 years.

The Bridge: What is your current profession?

Winston: I am currently the sous chef at Bluebird Tavern in Burlington. I was the chef at Trattoria Delia in Burlington and the sous chef at Acacia Midtown in Richmond, Virginia, prior to that.

The Bridge: Do you think your experience at NECI helped you get your current job?

Winston: NECI was a solid building block for me that has definitely helped me along the way.  I went into the program with very little kitchen experience, which created this “blank canvas” for me to build upon.  NECI taught me a lot about the importance of professionalism, organization and the culinary skills to excel at my current job.

The Bridge: How did you learn about NECI?

Winston: I believe I found it on the Internet. I was taking some time off from UVM (majoring in business administration) and I began baking bread for fun. That’s when I decided to look into culinary schools. NECI’s style of teaching and location were ultimately what led me to apply.

The Bridge: Tell us a bit about the program?

Winston: The culinary arts program was very hands-on and visual. The fundamentals of cooking were taught right from the beginning and right in the kitchen. It was a program of learning by doing, which is exactly how my learning style is.  It was a nice array of classes that introduced me to a lot of techniques and ingredients I had never seen or heard of before. All the instructors were dedicated to their professions of chefs and teachers.

The Bridge: What is your favorite part about the program?

Winston: The small classes.  It made me feel more important, rather than a number is a huge classroom as I experienced at UVM. The intimacy kept me more motivated to excel in the program.

The Bridge: What is the average NECI student like?

Winston: A teacher and leader.  I believe this is the result of the small classes and hands-on approach to the academics.  When I see resumes with a NECI graduate on them, I am a lot more prone to follow up with those individuals because I know what they have been through and know that NECI does a great job of teaching professionalism, a hard work ethic and knowledge of the culinary field.

Photo courtesy of NECI
Photo courtesy of NECI