NEWTON — Chef Martin Kester takes the idea of keeping local seriously. Named the new Supervisor of Culinary Arts & Hospitality at Sussex County Community College, Kester, of Mount Olive, has worked in some of the best restaurants in the state in a career that has spanned 20 years. His accolades include being named one of the top five chefs in the state by Inside Jersey in 2015 and has been part of several teams that earned coveted 4-star ratings from The Star Ledger. His secret to a great menu? Fresh, local ingredients from the Garden State. Dedicated to learning everything about the process of farm to table, Kester works closely with farmers and took a hands-on approach to help establish a sustainable farm for one of his restaurants. He also maintains a full culinary garden at home. But his dedication to local growth isn’t limited to fruits and vegetables. In his well-organized kitchens, Kester is known for providing a guiding eye while allowing his staff to develop their own skills and styles. He enjoys seeing how their craft evolves as they come into their own. He now brings this commitment to building a skilled local culinary community to the Culinary Arts & Hospitality Program at SCCC. Long-term goals for the program include establishing a Culinary Institute at SCCC, as well as encouraging local talent to help build the Northwest New Jersey culinary scene. Just like in his own kitchens, he is dedicated to ensuring students have the hands-on experience needed to succeed after they leave the guidance of his eye. “Our goal is to attract local students to our programs, exceedingly prepare them to meet the rigorous demands of the industry, and hopefully retain them to work right here locally,” Kester said. SCCC's Culinary Arts & Hospitality program is an intensive two-year Associate Degree program that prepares students for food service and managerial positions in the hospitality field. A mix of class and lab study, students leave the program with a solid understanding of food preparation and service, cultural and culinary trends, menu preparation, equipment usage, safety and sanitation procedures, and customer service and leadership skills. Classes will begin during Delayed Start on September 24.“No matter which career path they choose, students will be prepared with a strong base of culinary skills & knowledge,” Kester said. “Upon graduation, they would be eligible for entry level positions in restaurants, hotels, retail food and institutional food service operations but prepared with the skills and understanding to advance more quickly.” For more information on this program and other degree and non-degree programs at SCCC, visit sussex.edu.