FirstStart – Evening Line Cook Training Program

The NJREF FirstStart Program was designed with the needs of the restaurant industry in mind. Restaurants need a full supply of skilled workers, and skilled workers wish to find employment. This program is the link between restaurants and the skilled workers they need.

This eight-week training requires minimal to no experience working in a commercial kitchen. Graduates will learn how to successfully work in a kitchen, rather than simply how to cook.

The program is a compilation of teaching lessons from the Food Bank of Monmouth County, Eva’s Village, Elijah’s Promise, and the New Jersey Restaurant Educational Foundation. The curriculum consists of two levels.

Level 1: Prep Cook

​Level 1 covers the basic skills needed to work as a simple prep cook. We have also incorporated introductory culinary classes. To help students learn to read recipes, we have incorporated production lists, recipes, and measurements into virtually every class.

Level 2: Line Cook

​Level 2 essentially trains students in the skills necessary for working as a line cook. It includes ServSafe® Food Safety Manager training, as well as ServSafe® Allergens training. The Level 2 course also requires students to gain work experience as part of the lessons, which is imperative to students learning the importance of efficiency and quickness in the restaurant industry.

5 Credentials Desired by Employers

Each level requires the student to pass the written and practical exams to move forward. At the completion of both levels, the student will have five credentials that restaurant owners and operators seek in their employees:

  1. ServSafe® Food Handler
  2. ServSafe® Food Safety Manager
  3. ServSafe® Allergens
  4. Certificate of Completion for FirstStart Level 1: Prep Cook
  5. Certificate of Completion for FirstStart Level 2: Line Cook

Program Details

The FirstStart curriculum is developed by the New Jersey Restaurant Educational Foundation (NJREF).

Courses will be taught at Promise Culinary School located at 211 Livingston Ave, New Brunswick, NJ. Promise Culinary School is conveniently located with easy access to NJ Transit bus and train stops.

Now Enrolling. Classes will run for eight weeks on Monday-Thursday at 5:30-10:30 PM.

Eligibility for Free Training

  • Must be registered with the One Stop Career Center
  • Must have been collecting unemployment benefits within one year of registration
  • Must meet with a counselor at the One Stop Career Center to confirm you qualify
  • Must possess at least 8th grade reading and math skills

Individuals who do not qualify to receive free training through the One Stop Career Center may pay for the course out of pocket for $2,600.


Interested students should contact Kelly Robinson at (732) 545-9002, ext. 121.


For more information, contact Kelly Robinson at (732) 545-9002, ext. 121 or complete the form below.

Upcoming Events

Learn about our upcoming events for our Day Culinary program.