Because he excelled in his studies, one of Essex Valley School's Culinary Arts students, Mike Saldivar, was able to test his abilities, transferring his classroom learning to real-life practice in a local restaurant's kitchen. With the help of his counselor, Scott Methven, Mike was given the opportunity for a paid internship at The Original Pancake House in West Caldwell. During his internship, Mike assisted with kitchen and food prep, working at the meat station, and cleanup duties. This valuable experience at a high volume restaurant gave Mike the confidence to attempt to pursue his dream of becoming a chef following graduation. "There is no doubt in my mind he has what it takes to make it in the restaurant industry" said owner Dimitri Rentzis.
Following his two month internship at The Original Pancake House, Mike was offered another internship at local Italian restaurant, Cielo, in Fairfield. Once again, Mike performed so well that the head chef at Cielo offered him a position in the restaurant after his graduation. "He's a great kid," said head chef Anthony Pucciarello. "He shows interest and is willing to learn."