Anyone who has walked past our kitchens during one of the culinary training sessions will tell you that the cooks are hard-working and enthusiastic about their job! In this year-long training program, participants are developing new practical skills in the culinary arts, and preparing to reintegrate into the workforce.
Mélissa Clément has coordinated the program with creativity and professionalism for over a year. She has 20 years of experience in the culinary industry and a diploma from the Institut de tourisme et d’hôtellerie du Québec (ITHQ). Mélissa is passionate about her work! Every day she helps mentor her students, many of whom have lived through challenging circumstances, by developing their culinary skills.
Throughout the course, participants learn to work with fresh, local ingredients they can find easily and cook at home. Participants spend ten hours each week working in our three kitchens on several projects, including catering for our events. They spend an additional ten hours per week receiving support from an intervention worker.
This program has an obvious focus on food, but also on love. There is a strong emphasis on giving back. “Their favourite project is preparing and packaging the lunch boxes for the children in our Academic Support program,” Mélissa says, “Many children with stories similar to theirs are benefitting from their work, their art. It’s a beautiful full-circle.”
Participants’ self-confidence and self-discipline soar during the program. They are responsible for their work and take pride in what they accomplish. They are expected to develop an overall vision for their creative projects.
One participant who started the program last January shares her experience: “When I started, I didn’t even know how to cut a carrot or even cook pasta. Now, after 12 months, I have proper knife skills that I could take into a professional kitchen. I used to be quite shy, but now I have more self-confidence. I have been sharing my newfound talent by cooking for my family. It’s great!”
Many of our new cooks are also clients of our Marché Bon Accueil. Mélissa’s vision is to empower participants to create delicious and healthy meals from the ingredients they’re able to access for free.
The culinary training program is proving to be a powerful source of transformation. Thank you to all of our donors who help make this program possible!
To learn more about our other life-changing services, please visit welcomehallmission.com/services