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The ICON program provides culinary training and job placement for adults with Autism and other special needs.  The program is led by a Chef Trainer with years of experience in the culinary field and supported by a team that includes a Life Skills Coach, and a Job Coach. ICON is the first program of its kind in New Jersey and throughout the nation. 


ICON runs for at 12 week session and includes the following areas:



Professional Culinary Training


ICON participants are trained by both the Program Coordinator, who has over 15 years experience working in the restaurant industry as well as the Chef Trainer with 10 years experience.  Both instructors have been formally trained in culinary school and previously worked in an array of food service establishments from coffee shops to fine dining.


Examples of the skills taught include:

    • Identification and proper use of common kitchen utensils and equipment
    • Uses and profiles of frequently used ingredients
    • Measuring techniques for liquid and dry ingredients
    • Following set recipes and recipe conversion
    • Preparation of food for the ICON class and the Friendship House commercial kitchen contracts


Food Safety and Sanitation


ICON participants are learning the standards used in professional kitchens for food safety and sanitation.  We focus on proper cleaning methods as well as HACCP food handling standards.  Before completion of the 12 week module, each participant takes the ServSafe Food Handlers online course.     


Group Discussions


Group discussions are led by members of the ICON team as well as the Friendship House clinical staff.   ICON also features guest speakers from local food service establishments (e.g., cooks, managers).  Group discussions focus on a wide range of topics including:


      • Workplace Social Skills
      • Coping with Work Related Stress
      • Transition to Employment
      • Interviewing Skills
      • Dealing with Workplace Supervisors


Job Placement


One of the paramount goals of the ICON program is to find competitive employment for our participants.  This begins with a Job Coach assigned specifically to the ICON program.  It starts immediately, week one, with pre-employment screening.  Over the next 12 weeks, the ICON Job Coach will identify potential employers, make connections between participants and employers, and facilitate the transition from ICON to work. 


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ICON classes are held Monday through Thursday from 4-7pm.  We are always enrolling participants for upcoming training modules.  For more information about ICON, please contact David Bein (201-488-2121 x323) dbein@njfrienshiphouse.org