For seven years, Matt Barone has developed, implemented, grown, and sustained the food safety programming at Kearny High School in Kearny, New Jersey. Through the Culinary Arts program, over 300 students annually earn their ServSafe certificate with a greater than 90% success rate, year after year.
The Culinary Arts program has opened the doors for hundreds of students to attend college or gain employment in the foodservice industry regardless of socioeconomic status, and has been instrumental in students receiving scholarships from schools including The Culinary Institute of America, Johnson & Wales University, and Monroe School of Culinary Arts.
We at Sani Professional applaud Matt for his efforts in promoting food safety to the benefit of his students and their community and are proud to have Matt as the 2018 Sani Awards Winner for Leadership in Food Safety.
[Sani Professional] Why did you get involved in food safety and what drives your passion for it?
[Matt Barone] Food Safety is a critical element of food service and I learned at a young age its paramount importance. I took my first ServSafe test in 2000 and have maintained my certification ever since. When I became an educator, I brought my passion for food safety to our Culinary Arts program. It is the very first unit we cover, as I believe each individual needs to have a working knowledge of best practices to ensure that they are handling food in a safe and sanitary manner. My passion is driven by creating well rounded cooks. They love to cook, but they develop a love of food safety. Once the realization hits that they aren’t just cooking peoples food, but protecting it as well, the responsibility of safety and sanitation becomes as necessary to them as seasoning their food.
[SP] Tell us briefly about your Sani Award-winning food safety program. How is it different and how does it drive results?
[MB] Our Food Safety program at Kearny High School provides introductory students with the opportunity to earn their ServSafe Food Handlers Certificate and the advanced students the Managers Certificate. It is different because by earning the certification, the student satisfies there college requirement and provides opportunity for employment. These differences drive the results as earning college credits and getting a job are near the top of a high school student’s list of preferences.
[SP] What was your favorite part of the Sani Award experience?
[MB] My favorite part of the Sani Award experience was getting to speak with other food safety professionals and learn from them. That being said, the entire Sani Award experience was amazing and am grateful for the opportunity to represent Sani Award as a Food Safety Leader.
[SP] What are you most excited about in food safety for 2018 and beyond?
[MB] I am excited to share the experiences and knowledge I gained at the Food Safety Summit with my students to grow our Food Safety programming.
[SP] What message would you tell someone just getting started in the foodservice or food safety industry?
[MB] As with anything, we are drawn to the exciting and glamourous, but if you really want to find success in this industry, put your efforts into the dirty details. Focus on creating standard operating procedures that ensure proficiency in productivity. Pay your dues and be humble. Find professionals that are willing to invest in your growth and be loyal to them. Work hard and stay hungry.