National Pilot for Chick-fil-A Culinary Academy at Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center

Posted on Categories Business, Community, Workforce Engagement, Career Information and Exploration, College and Career Pathways, Industry Certifications, Postsecondary Transitions, Work-based learning

At a Glance

A partnership between Western Montgomery Career and Technology Center (WMCTC) and a local Chick-fil-A restaurant developed into a national pilot.


When the CEO of Chick-fil-A was visiting a Pennsylvania franchise near WMCTC, Director Chris Moritzen arranged to have a brief meeting with him to discuss a potential partnership. Mr. Moritzen was immediately invited to submit a proposal to the Chick-fil-A corporate leadership team in Atlanta, Georgia which he did in October 2016. Hearing back from the leadership team two months later, this proposal quickly morphed into the Chick-fil-A Culinary Academy, a partnership between WMCTC and two local Chick-fil-A franchises. The Chick-fil-A corporate leadership team is looking at this partnership as a pilot for a national model they hope to announce in fall 2018.

Origin / Implementation

WMCTC previously had a culinary partnership with another restaurant chain, The Outback. However, in looking for a new and more innovative partnership, Mr. Moritzen took a chance and reached out to the CEO of Chick-fil-A, a company with over two thousand restaurants in 43 states and Washington D.C.

Having received positive feedback from Chick-fil-A, Mr. Moritzen needed to establish buy-in from the school’s culinary instructors who were initially skeptical of a culinary partnership with a “fast food” chain. The instructors toured the restaurant and were surprised to find that Chick-fil-A offers more “homemade” food than other fast food chains. In fact, the level of experience their students could obtain impressed them.

The Chick-fil-A Culinary Academy was developed with a mission to “…provide every student the opportunity for personal growth through real world educational experiences in a caring, safe, and diverse environment. Stretching each student beyond expectations through a rigorous and relevant curriculum, the Academy will prepare them for a seamless transition to Post Secondary Education and adult life.”

The Culinary Academy is open to junior and senior students as a culminating project in the culinary arts program. In the Academy, students will explore all facets of the Chick-fil-A restaurant model including customer service, culinary excellence, and business management. While still in development, the program aims to provide students with the opportunity to earn pertinent industry certifications, dual enrollment credit, leadership opportunities, and eligibility for Chick-fil-A scholarships.

Beginning in winter 2016, the Academy was intentionally limited to only four juniors. First, the students learn the essential skills and earn a ServSafe certificate while at WMCTC. Following this, they participate in a job shadowing experience at Chick-fil-A for approximately eight weeks, four hours per week. This leads to a senior year co-operative learning experience during which, after the first 60 days, students choose either a leadership or an operational track for the remainder of the co-op. Senior students may also attend a one-week leadership experience at Chick-fil-A’s Atlanta, Georgia corporate offices. The school provides transportation to the job shadow and co-op opportunities.

The new partnership is marketed to potential students in several ways including social media, billboards, open houses, and print advertisements; the attached presentation, shared by Mr. Moritzen, provides more information.

Results / Impact / Next Steps

Results of the partnership are not yet available as the program is still in development. However, it is significant that WMCTC is creating and piloting what may be a national program for the national chain.

Mr. Moritzen and the culinary instructors intend to increase enrollment in the Culinary Academy, adding four to ten juniors in the 2017-18 school year (with the current four juniors continuing in their senior year). Due to the size of the restaurant’s kitchens, the number of students engaged in work-based learning may be limited.

WMCTC staff is in working with its local community college to develop a dual enrollment partnership that allows Culinary Academy students to earn up to half of the credits needed for a two year A.S. degree.


Western Montco Career and Technology Center
Chris Moritzen, Administrative Director

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