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San Quentin Cooking Class Serves Up Chance for Better Future After Release

 June 5, 2019 at 10:39 AM PDT

Speaker 1: 00:00 Another way to help people find housing is to help them find work at San Quentin state prison in northern California. A group of inmates just graduated from an inhouse culinary school. The graduates hope to beat statistics that say former prisoners are five times more likely to be unemployed than the general public. Kq Edis, Mary Franklin Harvin reports. Speaker 2: 00:23 It's going to be beef short ribs and then there's going to be shrimp skewers. Chicken. On this trip, half they have that Cayenne pepper, Speaker 3: 00:34 same quitting inmate carry red list. The menu for the Clinton kicks graduation dinner instead of a cap and gown. Red's wearing a crisp white chef's jacket. He's standing behind a huge cooktop that's crackling with rows of bread coasting on the grid or red says it's his time with the guys in the class that will stick with, Speaker 2: 00:52 yeah, that's like a bonding experience. Chief of weird is happening in the prison because you think that Christian is like really like I can like tough and Moscow Speaker 3: 01:00 when hooks is a 16 week program and one of the benefits of the course is that the men don't have to pay for this. Serves a food handler credential that many states, including California, require of restaurant workers, the certificates valid for three years, which is why the courses geared mostly towards men who will be out before it expires so that they're able to then, you know, save on costs and the educational piece for both themselves and the employer and can go right into him. A food handling position. Lisa Dombroski is a former chef who cofounded Quintin cooks with Laney Melnitz sir, a wholesale bakery owner. They both thought the food industry, it would be a good place for former inmates to get jobs, one where people won't judge them for their past or their tattoos. The instructors teach to the inmates culinary interests in meat. Dairy Brown is bald with a goatee and glasses. He talks about some of the things he's learned in the class, Speaker 4: 01:53 excepting a criticism constructively, um, and join the food that they cooked. And um, yes, so the highlight would be making the cheese and the mayonnaise. Speaker 3: 02:04 Brown and his classmates learned to make cheese from scratch. He's one of eight inmates graduating shortly before their sentences are up Melnitz or starts helping them find work in the food industry. That's how Joelle McCarter, a former Quentin cook, found his current job in a barbecue shop in Berkeley. He came out to root for the men on graduation night. Mccarter's been working in restaurants since his release in 2070 Speaker 2: 02:28 [inaudible] ask you for a second chance, but it was still cool. Cooking is always there for you. I got you to come on and just reach for it and take it in. They was a blessing. We've been blessed in my life. Speaker 1: 02:43 That was Kq Edis Mary Franklin Harvin.

Quentin Cooks is a culinary program offered at San Quentin State Prison since 2016. The program is designed to train inmates in the culinary arts, giving them the skills they need to find employment once they are released from prison.
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