Chicago's Community Kitchen helps those in need start culinary careers

For nearly 20 years, Chicago's Community Kitchens has been helping the unemployed and underemployed in Cook County get jobs in the culinary field.

The program at the Greater Chicago Food Depository is a free 14-week job training program for adults. Participants spend 12 weeks learning culinary skills in the classroom and then two in a restaurant kitchen.

"We have about 80 different partnerships. Some of those are internships, some of those are direct hires. The people we have met have been great with onboarding with our program," said Quantrell Taylor, a chef at Chicago's Community Kitchens.

For Timothy Mabron, the program is a step in a whole new direction.

"I really feel blessed and my whole life has changed. There was a time I was going to sleep at 2 or 3 in the morning and now I'm getting up at 2 or 3 in the morning going somewhere that is meaningful to me that will change my life, my family's life, I'm just loving it," said Mabron, who is a participant in Chicago's Community Kitchens program.

Mabron, who is eight weeks into the program, said he hopes to land a job in a commercial kitchen once he's done.

"It was a good time for me to make this change in my life. I got younger generations coming, they are going to need my help and I want to be there for them," Mabron said. "This will change your life. I wish there were more places like this because we definitely can use a place like this."

Since the program started in 1998, about 1,200 students completed the training and 90 percent have been placed in a job.

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