Boston Kroc's Recipe for Success
A job-training ministry at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center counts among its graduates chefs as young as 19 and as seasoned as 76.
wonderful is cooking at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in
Boston, MA—the Culinary Arts school program is taking both unemployed and
unemployable would-be chefs and preparing them for careers in the food
“We’ve had a pretty good success rate with the dozen or so classes already graduated since 2014,” says Chef Timothy Tucker, the program’s culinary prof. “On average, we’ve had a 90% graduation rate and about an 80% job placement record.”
Chef Timothy, who is the product of a similar school for The Salvation Army in Louisville, KY, has enjoyed a cooking career as far back as 15 years of age, becoming a certified chef at age 20 at Sullivan University.
The Boston Kroc school, a 10-week program, runs Mondays through Fridays. The course includes all the fundamentals in the food industry, proper food handling, and serve-save management. Graduates receive certification and a culinary apprenticeship somewhere in New England.
While most graduates are now functioning very well in the culinary job market, Chef Timothy proudly reports that some have even gone on to become entrepreneurs of their own restaurants.
Students in the Kroc Culinary Arts program do much more than just crack a lot of eggs.
“We teach them life-skills as well, because it’s very important they learn how to work as a team with others around them,” Chef Timothy says. “We bring on a life-coach as part of the curriculum to ‘peel the layers’ from potential personality conflicts. By the time they leave here, they should be working as a team, connecting with other employees, and mindful of each other’s concerns and traits.”
Graduates have ranged from as young as 19 to over 76. And although the average investment per student is $4,000 (food, education, textbooks, kitchen supplies) there is no tuition cost—underwritten by government and private grants made to the Army for this program.
The program has become so popular, a night class course has been added.
At the beginning of new semesters, four countries are selected for the students to learn about ethnic food preparation.
“We have ‘Foreign Fridays’ when our students take one of the countries and prepare all the food which we prepare and set up a little café serving lunch from noon to 1 pm,” Chef says. “Its very popular!”
Decorations from that nation’s culture are brought out for Foreign Fridays, adding a generous portion of music and a cupsful of fun, he adds.
“The specific goal of the Culinary Arts school is getting these guys meaningful work in the food industry; preparing to be professionals in the kitchen; and, feeling good about themselves and their environment.”
It seems that Chef Timothy “wrote the book” on Culinary Arts—Destination Chef is the textbook used for the program.
“To my knowledge, this is the only Kroc offering this program at the moment. But it could easily be duplicated in any of the Krocs, or any Salvation Army corps for that matter,” he says.
“We have so many unbelievable success stories!”