Esophageal resection is a high-risk and technically demanding procedure, with a long proficiency-gain curve. The European Society Diseases of the Esophagus (ESDE)-Minimally Invasive Esophagectomy (MIE) training program was launched in 2018 for European surgeons willing to train and to begin a career undertaking MIE. The aim of this study was to evaluate the first experience of the ESDE-MIE fellowship and relate this to the initially predetermined core principles and objectives of the program. Between October 2021 and May 2022, the participating fellows, in collaboration with the ESDE Educational Committee, initiated a survey to assess the outcome and experience of these fellowships. Data from each individual fellowship were analysed and reported in a descriptive manner. Between 2018 and 2022, in total, five fellows have completed the ESDE-MIE fellowship program. Despite the COVID-19 outbreak just the year after its launch, predetermined clinical and research goals were achieved in all cases. Each of the fellows were able to assist in a median of 40 (IQR 27-69) MIE and/or Robot assisted (RA)MIE procedures, of a total median of 115 (IQR 83-123) attended Upper GI cases. After the fellowship, MIE has been fully adopted by the fellows who returned to their home institutions as Upper GI surgeons. The fellowship was concluded by the European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS) Multidisciplinary Joint Committee (MJC) certification in Upper GI Surgery, which was successfully obtained by all who took part. Based on the experience of the first five fellows, the ESDE-MIE training fellowship meets with the expected needs even despite the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019. Furthermore, these fellows have returned home and integrated MIE into their independent surgical practice, affirming the ability of this program to train the next generation of MIE surgeons, even in the most challenging of circumstances. © The Author(s) 2023. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of International Society for Diseases of the Esophagus. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected].