The University of the Virgin Islands Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning (UVI CELL) has announced the addition of local chef and educator Kerish Robles as program manager for UVI CELL’s new culinary arts program.
The culinary arts program, currently in the development phase, will be housed at the former West Bay Supermarket location on St. Thomas and addresses the restaurant industry labor shortages and the need for formal training in the culinary industry. The program will offer certification courses through the American Culinary Federation, industry short courses and community cooking classes. It is expected to launch in the spring of 2022.
“I’m excited for our community and our future students, as chef Kerish is the ideal person for this role,” stated UVI CELL Director Dr. Suzanne Darrow-Magras. “She is a culinary expert and a dedicated teacher with an entrepreneurial spirit. She is committed to furthering the skills of residents and understands the importance of career and technical education in the territory.”
Robles brings more than 17 years of experience as an “innovative professional certified chef.” Born and raised on St. Thomas, she graduated from the International Culinary Institute at the Art Institute of Atlanta with a degree in culinary management. She was one of the first two to be named Junior Chef on the U.S. Virgin Islands Culinary Team.
Robles previously served as a certified career and technical education educator at the high school level for more than seven years, instructing in the areas of culinary arts, business, hospitality and tourism, and family and consumer science. During that time, she created a hands-on culinary program that provided students with the opportunity to creatively experience various aspects of the field, gain industry certifications and collaborate with other high school students locally.
“I am honored to have been selected for the role and I look forward to exceptional things happening in the culinary program,” said Robles. “The Virgin Islands and St. Thomas, in particular, has had a long-standing need for a program that offers formal training and credentialing to beginners and industry professionals. I look forward to sharing the knowledge and experiences I have attained over the years to positively impact the lives of those in my community.”
In addition to her professional work, Robles also participates in various community outreach events in the territory, offering seminars and classes on the art and science of food, finance, management and nutrition. She also works with various volunteer organizations locally and abroad.
For more information, contact chef Kerish at 340-693-1355.