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Culinary apprenticeship program celebrates graduation day

Kitchens for Good graduate.png
Carlos Castillo
Kitchens for Good graduate Chef Jetane Leday embraces a Kitchens for Good staff member after the organization's apprenticeship promotion ceremony at the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park on October 18, 2021.

On Monday, the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park hosted the Kitchens for Good apprentice promotion ceremony.

Jetane Leday was one of the five graduates that completed the Kitchens for Good apprentice program, which helps people learn the skills they need to be successful in the culinary and hospitality industry.

“I always knew I wanted to be a chef and I knew I was good at it, but I just needed someone that believed in me, so I could believe in myself,” Leday said.

Before the program, Leday struggled with homelessness and unemployment.

“This program has not only taught me how to be a great chef, but it taught me life skills. It taught me how to be a leader,” Leday said. “How to not only be a leader but to move forward in life. Just not only in my career but as a person, as a mother, as a daughter and as a sister.”

Dennis Crosby, Kitchens for Good's director of apprenticeship programs, said students come from all walks of life, including those who were formerly incarcerated, homeless, unemployed or in foster care.

“That was part of who I was. This is part of who I am now and this is where I want to go and we want to support them every step of that journey,” Crosby said. “Our goal is to provide opportunities for individuals that love cooking, that love food and that want to give in to that industry. They want to be a part of that industry.”

The apprenticeship program is 20 months long. The first three months are spent in classrooms and teaching kitchens. Eleven students were honored at the ceremony for completing that part of the program.

They all attended full-time training covering both knife skills, such as food safety and culinary or baking techniques, to life skills such as communication skills, résumé writing and financial literacy. They practiced their skills daily by preparing meals for food-insecure San Diegans.

Culinary apprenticeship program celebrates graduation day

For the remaining 17 months, the apprentices get 2,400 hours of on-the-job training with one of the program's over 140 employer partners.

“A good number of the individuals on this stage are going to be starting work next week," Crosby said. "Some of them have already started working a couple weeks ago.”

Since launching, Kitchens for Good has helped over 350 apprentices get jobs, with an 84% job placement rate. It also rescued more than 311,000 pounds of food from being thrown away, and the group has provided more than 620,000 nutritious meals.

To learn more about Kitchens for Good and its apprenticeship program, visit kitchensforgood.org.