The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

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The Student Voice Of Contra Costa College, San Pablo, Calif.

The Advocate

CCC Head Chef Nader Sharkes is retiring

Head Chef Nader Sharkes has been teaching for over 32 years and is hanging up his apron at CCC.
shawn williams
Culinary department leads with students who will and have been to Italy in the courtyard, at Contra COsta College in San Pablo Calif. on April 21 2024.

After working at Contra Costa College for 16 years as the head of the Culinary Arts department – and prior to that, at Diablo Valley College –Chef Nader Sharkes is retiring. 

Chef Sharkeshas developed and honed the culinary department into a place where  students can succeed in the culinary world. With the help of Sharkes, many great chefs have come to fruition. Sharkes went on to say “I still have the drive and passion to cook, its just the journey we take” on taking his next steps after retiring. 

Growing up in the United Kingdom with a large family that wasn’t focused on gourmet food, the meals weren’t the best. At the age of 14, he started working in restaurants and began his culinary adventure with a new taste of kitchen life. Sharkes traveled the world and obtained a masters degree in psychology. His travels led him to New York, where he worked until he was asked to teach at factories. He continued to teach from there.

With over 32 years of teaching, Sharkes has brought up some culinary masters.

Henry Hamilton, a former student who is the cofounder of Chef’s Way Catering. 

“High emotions come to play – it’s like I never left,” Hamilton said of working with Sharkes at the recent Contra Costa College Food and Wine Festival.

Current culinary student, Sam Black, expanded on what it’s like to work with Sharkes. 

“Pretty fun, but also if you’re not doing your job, he will call you out,” Black said. “It’s a good balance, and he has a good teaching style, like he can joke and also put his foot down”. 

Instructional Assistant, Penny Chuah described Sharkes’ philosophy on teaching as professional but encouraging.

“He has such a standard – it’s like working with a professional, but he is such an open-minded person and is so willing to try new things,” Chuah said. 

Sharkes has held the annual Food and Wine Festival for 15 years at CCC to send students to a trip to Italy on scholarship. Sharkes has impacted the community in enormous ways, his students said. 

Chef Nader Sharks accepting proclamations presented by Contra Costa College’s president Kimberly Rogers and sponsor JoJo Soriano during the Food and Wine Festival, in San Pablo Calif. on Sunday, April 21, 2024. (Shawn Williams)

With the most recent Food and Wine festival on April 21, being his last, Sharkes was honored by CCC President Kimberly Rogers and San Pablo city council members. He was also granted a proclamation by the city of San Pablo. 

Many of Sharkes’ students have his lessons drilled into their memory. 

Although he is retiring, Sharkes will be teaching at Contra Costa until this December.. The culinary students are hopeful for a  new head chef that can fill Sharkes’ shoes. 

“I hope that they can give these upcoming students [some of] what chef Nader did” – Culinary student Demetrio Campos.

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shawn williams, Advocate Staff

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    Culinary Academy at CCCMay 14, 2024 at 1:17 pm

    Congratulations on your well-deserved retirement, Chef Nader! Your dedication and passion have greatly enriched our culinary program. Your legacy will continue to inspire future chefs. Thank you for your invaluable contributions and years of service.

    Best wishes from the Culinary Academy at CCC.