CHICAGO (CBS) — An alluring aroma wafts through the walls of a kitchen in Garfield Park, where the creators of some delicious dishes are students.
Mostly west and south sides, learning how to make his way in the restaurant industry. Jim Williams Reports from CBS 2
The force behind this free training program is a celebrity chef from Chicago.
At the age of 21, Daniel Braemer has a background in restaurant kitchens. Mainly, he tells us, doing the dishes. But in this kitchen, his ambition skyrockets.
“I hope I have the skills to one day be a chef and own my own place.”
Daniel is a student in a program called Impact Culinary Training. The young adults, most of them from the city’s west and south sides, are preparing for the chef’s life: an eight-week class at 135 North Kedzie, followed by a four-week internship at a New York-area restaurant. Chicago.
“All of our students are very excited about this program. None of them are ever late,” said program director Shanell Rainey. “Some students come here two hours before class because they’re so excited about the program.”
They start by learning food safety and how to handle knives.
“The first few days can be a struggle for anyone to learn a new skill, true, and having proper knife technique and holding a knife is tough,” instructor Matt Miller said. “Because you have to contort your hands in a way that you’re generally not used to.”
Then move on to cooking and learning recipes and new techniques. Student Cidney West had cooked eggs before, but not the way she was taught here.
“I never knew how to make a French egg. It’s like an omelet. Basically, whisk the egg, whisk, whisk, whisk until it’s a fluffy base,” West said.
Celebrity chef and restaurant owner Rick Bayless is the co-founder of Impact Culinary Training. This kitchen is named after him. The goal is to prepare young people for jobs in restaurants. Program director Shanell Rainey said coming out of the pandemic, restaurants have signs that say “Help Wanted.”
“The restaurant industry is in dire need of trained employees,” Rainey said. “They’re soaking up every little thing, from the classroom to job readiness training to resume skills to mock interviews. They embraced the whole process.”
“Taking pride in your work, learning some skills, potentially gaining employment at some of our restaurants in Chicago, is incredibly rewarding for me,” Miller added.
And learn to adapt to a demanding environment, sometimes stressful.
“I’ve learned to work under pressure,” West said. “If something happens, you have to work hard to get through it.”
So soon in a good restaurant you can enjoy your tasty work.
“I will be more confident to go into the kitchen and do what I was trained to do,” Braemer said.
The Impact Culinary Training is open to young people from 16 to 24 years old. Students also learn resume writing and interview skills. Training is free for students. Donors pay tuition. For more information, click here or visit Impact Culinary Training online.