For seven talented NYC young chefs, the dream of working at one of the world’s best restaurants just became a reality. C-CAP (Careers through Culinary Arts Program), in partnership with Olésay and Madrid Asociacion Turismo de Madrid, will be sending the chefs to Madrid where they will each be working at some of the city’s top-rated restaurants for three months beginning in April. Six out of those seven restaurants have Michelin stars. The all-expenses paid trip will give the C-CAP alumni a chance to learn about Spanish culture while they play significant roles in the country’s best restaurants. On Wednesday, the seven scholarship winners were honored with a tapas and sangria lunch at the popular East Village Spanish restaurant, Huertas.

C-CAP is a national non-profit organization committed to providing disadvantaged youths with scholarships and career opportunities in the food service industry. Brianna Wellmon, 24, received her first scholarship from C-CAP to attend the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), and this most recent scholarship will send her to Madrid’s two-star restaurant, Alabaster. Wellmon said, “I started building a relationship with C-CAP at a young age. Once you are in C-CAP it is a lifelong commitment.” All of the scholarship winners heading to Madrid have been involved with the organization for many years, and most will attribute their success to the opportunities offered by C-CAP. C-CAP leaders carefully matched each chef with a specific restaurant in Madrid that they believed would be a good fit for the winners.

Once in Madrid each scholarship winner will immediately become integrated into the kitchen staff at their restaurant. Krystal Lewis won the scholarship last year, when the awards were given to two chefs for five-month internships in Barcelona. C-CAP was able to extend the scholarship to more chefs this year by making the experience shorter. During her internship Lewis worked at Barcelona’s three Michelin-star restaurant, Sant Pau. Sant Pau’s menu is centered on artforms, and Lewis’s focus was abstract impressionism. She said, “From the get-go I was put in charge of a dish. First it was a meringue with a small piece of bizcocho and rhubarb gelé of fruit culee with fresh berries. Later I was in charge of a savory lentil soup accompanied by five different sauces: chanterelles, black trumpet mushrooms, celery leaf sauce, tomato sauce, and cream of celery root.” Lewis mentioned that while she picked up some of the Spanish language during her tenure, she did not feel that there was a difficult language barrier while working in the Spanish kitchen.

This year’s scholarship winners can expect similar experiences to what Lewis enjoyed. Gabrielle Calle, 26, got involved with C-CAP in high school and says she attributes a lot of her success in the industry to the organization. During and after high school she volunteered at C-CAP sponsored events and remained in close contact with the organization ever since. Calle also received a scholarship to attend the CIA, and since then she has made a name for herself by working at one of the West Village’s premier Italian-inspired restaurants, L’Artusi. Calle is especially excited to be working alongside María Marte of Club Allard, who is the only female chef in Madrid who has been awarded two Michelin stars.

Other winners of the scholarship include: Abdallah Farraj, 22, who will be working at Restaurant Coque, Christopher Andrade, 23, heading to Albora, Christopher Williams, 29, to A’barra, Eldridge Betts, 29, to Santceloni, and Tchnavia Carter, 27, destined for Gaytan. We wish each of the scholarship winners the best of luck on their adventures, and hope that they’ll return to New York to display some of the delicious creations that they will develop along their journey.

C-CAP Group Photo