NEW BRITAIN – A passion for food led Jose Xiloj to receive a scholarship from the Max Cares Foundation’s Culinary Arts Scholarships awards, a surprise he is eager to use for his future.
“I joined the culinary arts because as a kid I’ve always had a passion for food and working in my father’s restaurant just amplified that,” he said. The New Britain student is currently a rising third year at Manchester Community College and is studying culinary arts.
Max Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization, awarded five scholarships to two college-bound high school graduates and three rising college students that are set to study in the fields of culinary arts and hospitality management. Each student will receive $2,500 toward their college expenses. The other students include Jonah Gershon of West Hartford, Rylan Walting of Wilbraham, Mass., Joshua Laxton of Chicopee, Mass. and Jacob Olsen of Old Lyme.
Carol McCabe, who is on the foundation’s board of directors for the scholarship committee, said the committee members were impressed with Xiloj’s extracurricular activities and admired his dedication in striving for professionalism.
“Not only is he experienced with the restaurant industry, he’s also involved with the school’s National Society of Minorities in Hospitality, in community outreach and had excellent recommendation letters,” she said.
“We’re always excited when we find our applicants have real passion for the culinary arts and hospitality,” McCabe continued. “It’s not always a career that is viable or chosen, but I think with how the restaurant industry has changed over the years, students are exposed to the fact that it is a career that they can have. The hospitality business has grown as an industry as well and we’re just glad to be able to help students achieve their goals.”
Xiloj said he loves his experience working at his father’s restaurant and has learned many of his techniques, some of which he has used at school, such as frying and baking bread.
“I love sweets and baking as well,” he said. “I will use the scholarship to keep continuing school to follow my dream of becoming a great chef and possibly a head cook, or be part of a management team for a restaurant establishment.”
Rich Rosenthal, president of the foundation, said with the hospitality industry being hit particularly hard by the pandemic at this time, he is excited the Max Cares Foundation is investing in the next generation of businesses.
“I look forward to seeing Jonah, Rylan, Joshua, Jose and Jacob help us move forward into the future,” he said.