‘They embraced the whole process’ Chicago students learn how to become chefs and possibly own a restaurant

CHICAGO (CBS) — An alluring aroma is wafting through the walls of a kitchen in Garfield Field, where the creators of some delicious dishes are students. 

Most from the west and south sides, learning how to make their way in the restaurant industry. CBS 2’s Jim Williams reports
The force behind this free training program is a celebrated Chicago chef.

At the age of 21, Daniel Braemer has experience in restaurant kitchens. Primarily, he tells us, washing dishes. But in this kitchen, his ambition is soaring.

“I hope to have the skills to one day be a chef and ownership of my own place.”

Daniel is a student in a program called Impact Culinary Training. 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 Chicago area restaurant.

“All our students are so enthusiastic about this program. None of them are ever late,” said program director Shanell Rainey. “Some students get here two hours before class because they’re so excited about the program.” 

They start by learning food safety and how to handle knives. Instructor Matt Miller.

“The first few days can be a struggle for anyone to learn a new skill, right, and having proper knife technique and holding a knife is difficult,” Miller said. “Because you have to contort your hands in a way you’re not generally used to.”

Then it’s on to cooking and learning recipes and new techniques. Student Cidney West had cooked eggs before, but not like she was taught here.

“I never knew how to do a French egg. It’s like an omelet. You basically whip the egg, whip whip whip until it a fluffy base,” West said.

Celebrated chef and restaurant owner Rick Bayless is the co-founder of Impact Culinary Training. This kitchen is named his honor. The aim is to prepare young people for jobs in restaurants. Program director Shanell Rainey said coming out of the pandemic, restaurants have the “Help Wanted” signs out.

“The restaurant industry is in dire need of trained employees,” Rainey said. “They’re absorbing every little thing from in the classroom to the job readiness training to the resume skills to the mock interviews. They embraced the whole process.”

“To take pride in their work, to learn some skills, to potentially get gainful employment at some of our restaurants in Chicago – is incredibly fulfilling to me,” Miller added.

And learning to adapt to a demanding, at times stressful environment.

“I’ve learned how to work under pressure,” West said. “If anything happens. you have to strive through it.”

So, soon at a fine restaurant, you might enjoy their tasty work.

“I will be more confident to go into the kitchen and do what i was trained to do,” Braemer said.

Our students are gearing up for the final 4-week stretch of kitchen training! After their time in the kitchen, they’ll head off to paid internships around Chicago.

Posted by Impact Culinary Training on Friday, April 29, 2022

The Impact Culinary Training is open to young people 16 to 24 years old. The students also learn resume writing and interviewing skills. The training is free for students. Donors pay the tuition. For more information click here or go online to Impact Culinary Training.

Leave a Comment