Tuesday, Chef Cornelius Rogers told Mass Foodies that he will be accepting the position of Kitchen Operations Manager at Worcester Regional Food Hub.
In this day and age, there’s no denying that consumers prefer local produce. And, while the locavore trend appears to be thriving in central Massachusetts, connecting farmers to chefs and food service organizations has proved unpredictably challenging. Gatekeepers to facilitate these relationships are few and far between. This void can often lead to excess crops doomed to become waste, or, conversely, unfulfilled consumer needs. With Chef Rogers on board, Worcester Regional Food Hub aims to change all of that.
It seems Chef Rogers is everywhere these days. As the Executive Chef de Cuisine of Niche Hospitality Group, he has forged relationships in countless facets of the community. In addition to his duties as a culinary leader in the city, Rogers is a member of the latest class of Leadership Worcester and he has shown continued support to Worcester’s youth through his work with the Nativity School, Girls Inc. and the Girl Scouts, among others.
In many ways, Rogers’ announcement comes as no surprise. Given his staunch commitment to the city of Worcester, it was only a matter of time before his humanitarian nature led him down the path to public service. In his new role, Rogers will partner with Quinsigamond Community College to further develop a culinary training program operating within the Food Hub.
Tim Murray, President of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, was the first to express his excitement, stating, “The Chamber’s partnership with the Regional Environmental Council to operate the Food Hub promotes entrepreneurship in the food industry, supports our local farmers, and provides healthy choices to all.” Regarding Rogers’ new position, he said, “The Food Hub is making great progress toward these goals and, with his incredible success in the local food scene, Neil is just the right person to take our kitchen to the next level.”
Steve Fischer, executive director of the Regional Environmental Council of Central Mass., added that Neil brings with him tremendous energy, creativity, experience and a passion for both developing the local food economy in Central Massachusetts and for making sure everyone in our community benefits equitably from that development. “We believe Neil is well positioned to help ensure the Worcester Regional Food Hub’s Incubator Kitchen project effectively serves both local farmers and aspiring entrepreneurs from Worcester’s diverse communities to start and grow their small food-based businesses,” Fischer said.
When talking with Niche Hospitality owner, Michael Covino, he explained how Niche first created Rogers’ position to assist Chef Steve Champagne with menu creation on account of his creativity. While Niche doesn’t have immediate plans to fill Rogers’ vacancy, Covino is encouraged by the internal energy that Niche’s Chefs have expressed. “We’re looking forward to continuing the relationship with Chef Rogers at his role with the Food Hub,” added Covino.
Worcester’s foodies are grateful for Rogers’ civic participation and eager to watch the chefs of Niche rise to Covino’s challenge.