“I have the coolest job ever, we take unemployed people and teach them a skill while feeding the hungry.”—Chef Paul Morrison
The NH Food Bank’s Culinary Training Program (CTP) aims to teach unemployed or underemployed adults the culinary skills necessary to seek employment in the food service industry. Started in 2008, NHFB hired Chef Jayson McCarter to be the culinary training instructor. The Culinary Training Program has graduated 448 participants since its inception.
Students learn knife skills, ServSafe training, basic nutrition, culinary math, weights & measures, and gain insight through hands on practice. Participants are taught cooking techniques that can be used to prepare multiple dishes, searing, frying, blanching, braising, grilling, roasting, & sautéing. The CTP stresses attention to detail, take pride in one’s work, and work with a sense of urgency. These are life skills that will stick with graduates in or out of the culinary field.
Gregg, a 43-year old, who has previously served as a nuclear technician in the Navy, entered the Culinary Training Program after hearing about it from a friend. He was laid off at the time and had a tenuous grip on hope, as he was struggling with alcohol addiction.
“The program was a big time commitment. It let me focus on something other than me. It gave me a creative outlet in a real life setting.”
For Gregg, the two-month, forty-hour a week program taught him that “food is artful.” Under the instruction and direction of chefs Jayson McCarter and Paul Morrison he learned how to manage a meal from start to finish, and when to start each dish so it hits the table hot. Through the Culinary Training Program approximately 2500 meals a week are produced. These, in turn, are distributed to partner agencies.
Gregg performed so well in the program that he was elevated to managing others, assessing their skills and knowing whom to assign to which task. He graduated from the program in May 2015, and returns to the kitchen to volunteer and run events like the Catholic Charities NH Christmas party.
After graduation, he was hired at the Derryfield Restaurant and sees himself cooking and traveling in the near future. “I wouldn’t have the skills or the confidence without the training I received through the Culinary Training program. The program saved my life.”
The Culinary Training Program builds self-sufficiency and strengthens communities through its work. In 2015 alone, 52 graduates created 129,830 meals that benefited the hungry through the following agencies: Bring It, Concord Boys & Girls Club, Hampshire House, Manchester Boys & Girls Club, Salem Boys & Girls Club, Welcome Table, and 1269 Cafe.
For more information about the NH Food Bank’s Culinary Training Program visit www.nhfoodbank.org