A personal and compelling motivational address by Chef Jeff Henderson – a man who literally turned it all around was capped Wednesday by a $5,000 donation from St. Augustine’s bed and breakfast community to help launch a culinary arts program at a local homeless center.
The new “Fresh Starts in Culinary Arts” program created by First Coast Technical College will provide rigorous and relevant training that will allow graduates to receive certification from the American Culinary Federation, local and national health departments and industry professionals. The training is designed to help graduates become readily employed in the third fastest growing occupation in Florida – foodservice – or for transfer into FCTC’s Commercial Foods/Culinary Arts Program.
Fresh Starts will be set up at St. Augustine’s St. Francis House homeless center, said FCTC president Sandra Raburn.
The $5,000 gift from St. Augustine Historic Inns, (SAHI), comes from partial proceeds of the December, 2012, holiday tour of inns, an annual event.
“Each year our members select a local charity to which we give partial proceeds of the tour ticket sales,” said SAHI president Tim Millbern, owner of At Journey’s End B&B. “The ‘Fresh Starts’ program complements our B&Bs focus on hospitality and culinary quality, and translates these values into rewarding educational and job opportunities.”
FCTC previously developed established a successful culinary arts program for the homeless at the Clara White Mission in Jacksonville, which continues to graduate and certify students under the auspices of the Mission. In addition, FCTC’s culinary arts program partners with PRIDE to offer culinary training courses that lead to industry certifications for Florida prisoners. These programs have helped graduates pass certification exams and find employment in the food service industry upon release.
Chef Jeff Henderson, a former federal prison inmate himself, turned his life around when he discovered a passion for cooking after being assigned to jail kitchen duty.
Henderson, whose $20-a-ticket appearance on Wednesday benefited Fresh Starts, related how food was his catalyst for professional success. Through work, an awakened sense of self-worth and what he calls strategic development of his gifts and relationships, he eventually became a nationally acclaimed culinarian, TV personality and best-selling author of his memoir, “Cooked.” A film starring Will Smith, based on the book, is currently in development, he said.
Henderson said he doesn’t spend as much time in the kitchen as he used to. He now travels the country as a motivational speaker, with a message especially targeting young people at risk of giving up on education and positive life goals. Visit http://www.chefjefflive.com/ for more information.
The SAHI group shared its gratitude and respect for Henderson’s message with its “Silver Teapot Service Award,” presented at the program in recognition of his contribution to education and inspiration through culinary arts.
To learn more about supporting Fresh Starts, contact Jill Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 904-547-3386. For more information about First Coast Technical College, log onto www.fctc.edu or email email@example.com.