He loves his job: Apprentice assists U.S. Culinary Olympic Team

Author: Colleen O'Connor

Josh Maron

Josh Maron is just one year into a three-year culinary apprenticeship program at Notre Dame and has already achieved what most chefs aspire to but few actually receive—the opportunity to compete at the Culinary Olympics, or International Exhibition of Culinary Art.

It all started last June, when Maron and five other culinary students from around the country were selected to work alongside the United States Culinary Olympic Team at a special event held during the national convention of the American Culinary Federation (ACF) in Orlando, Fla.

After submitting a photo of himself, a letter of recommendation from Notre Dame Executive Chef Don Miller and a 500-word essay describing how this experience would benefit him and his future culinary career, Maron was interviewed, selected and flown to Orlando at the expense of the ACF.

“I had the chance there to work with Certified Master Chef Steve Jilleba on a Caribbean cuisine competition,” says Maron.

Apparently that paid off, as Maron was one of two apprentices subsequently chosen to participate in the Culinary Olympics held in Erfurt, Germany, Oct. 5 to 9. Speaking of Maron’s selection, Miller says, “This is huge in the food services industry, a career changer.”

Approximately 1,600 chefs representing 51 countries competed this year. Team USA consisted of four teams of six members each: the national team, on which Maron worked as an apprentice; a regional team; youth team; and military team. The USA national team, competing in both hot and cold food categories, was awarded two silver medals and an overall ranking of sixth in the world.

“This is by far the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I am beyond grateful to Notre Dame, and Chef Miller in particular, for the support,” says Maron. “The amount of work, commitment and attention to detail necessary to compete at this level pushed me to the extreme and taught me so much about myself.”

In 2009, Maron started his career with Notre Dame Food Services as a service associate, washing dishes and attending to service lines. The following year, he moved to a kitchen associate position and later became a cook at the North Dining Hall.

In November 2011, he signed on for the three-year American Culinary Federation apprenticeship program at Notre Dame, which is open to Notre Dame staff as well as others in the community. Upon entering, candidates are required to give up their current job and take a cut in pay, approximately 50 percent. Maron is the only Notre Dame employee currently in the program. As a nationally certified apprenticeship, the program requires course work and hands-on experience, including 6,000 hours of on-the-job training and 575 hours of theory-related classroom study at Ivy Tech.

This year, Maron was awarded the Fred E. Freeman Staff Scholarship, which pays $1,000 per semester toward tuition.