Culinary and Pastry Arts
Class of 2000
Josh Keating always loved to cook but never realized it was something he could do for a living until he started as a shared-time student at the Salem County Vocational Technical Schools (SCVTS) in his senior year at Penns Grove High School.
“I liked bringing my family together for meals,” Keating said. “We never really would sit down as a family and have a meal together so I used my skills I was learning at the Vo-Tech to make meals for my family.”
Keating said he loved being a student at SCVTS so much that he continued his education as a post-secondary student after he graduated in 2000.
“I absolutely loved everything about the Culinary and Pastry Arts program,” he said. “The competitions were great, VICA (now SkillsUSA), the Chocolate Competition. I participated in them all.”
Keating said he was instructed by Chef Brian Quinn and Chef Roland Carter while a student. “They both made a remarkable impression on my early career,” he said. I took their recommendation and continued my education at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, New York.” Keating graduated there in 2004 at the top of his class.
“I didn’t realize that this was something I could do for a living, that I could be a chef and continue to bring people together to enjoy what I created until coming to the Vo-Tech,” Keating said.
After graduating from the CIA, Keating was hired at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, DE where he did everything from working as a butcher, to working banquets to working in the famed Green Room. Keating then took a chef position at the At the Rail restaurant at Delaware Park Casino & Race Track.
“It was a great opportunity and a challenge to build restaurants and culinary teams at Delaware Park from the ground up,” he said. Eventually Keating moved up to the Executive Chef position at the Casino handling 300 plus employees and 15 million dollars a year in food and beverage sales all before the age of thirty.
“It’s a demanding career to be in,” he said. “I’m thankful for a supportive wife and understanding family who realized why I couldn’t be home all the time.”
After 20-plus years working as a chef, Keating made a career change so he could be home more. He created a Private Chef / Consulting business named Plate Up. At Plate Up, he helps business owners make critical decisions and helps train their staff in everything from food prep and proper cooking methods to ServSafe and food costing. He can also be hired to cater your next event. Keating is also currently working at the Restaurant Store as a sales specialist and consultant helping to build and design new restaurants all across the tri-state region. Keating has also caught the teaching bug by coming to Salem Tech once a week to work with the Culinary and Pastry Arts students.
“I am honored that the school allows me to come into the kitchen and do demonstrations for, and with the students to share my knowledge and experiences,” he said.
Keating said he especially enjoys how inquisitive the students are with asking questions about how to prepare certain recipes or coming up with different ways to complete a dish.
“It recharges my batteries so to speak,” Keating said. “It challenges me to think of other ways to do things. We have great discussions and it sometimes leads to setting up demos we do together.”
Born and raised in Salem County, Keating said he will continue to give back to the school which started him in a profession he loves working in every day. He serves as a member of the Culinary and Pastry Arts Program Advisory Committee offering his advice and expertise to the instructors. Keating recently donated to the program a state-of-the art, restaurant grade mixer and various kitchen tools valued at $2,000.
“This is the reason I entered this field almost 25 years ago,” he said. “It’s why I love working with new restaurant owners and chefs to encourage them to open more restaurants right here in Salem County. I want to be able to teach and show these young people the opportunities they have.”
Keating, a 2013 Salem Tech Alumnus of the Year, lives in Pennsville with his wife and two children, all of whom are graduates of SCVTS programs.