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Program Trains Unemployed to Become Chefs

Programs around the country are combatting joblessness by employing new tactics. NewsHour reports on a program in Chicago that helps train unemployed people in the culinary field.

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  • ELIZABETH BRACKETT, NewsHour Correspondent:

    He handles his sharp kitchen knife like a pro. But it's only Jesse Harper's third day as an intern in a high-end catering business in Chicago.

    The internship is part of an innovative 12-week program developed by the Greater Chicago Food Depository to train unemployed or underemployed people to work in the food industry. Harper, who was out of a job when he began, says the program has changed his life.

  • JESSE HARPER, Student:

    It's a life-altering situation, because what — I thought I knew how to cook. You know, I can cook at home. You can throw a meal together. But now I have skills. I feel like it's a big difference.

    It's sort of like it's a trade that they're teaching me, as well as here, and it's something that will last me forever and ever.

  • LISA GERSHENSON, Executive Chef Instructor:

    This takes practice, but what you're going for is a real even dice.


    Glorietta Jones hopes to get into the Community Kitchens Program. She's trying out in the program's sparkling industrial kitchen, under the watchful eye of executive chef instructor Lisa Gershenson. If Jones is accepted, she's in for a tough 12 weeks.


    We start at 7:30 in the morning, and the earliest we finish is at 3:30 in the afternoon. And many of the people who participate in this program have never had to stick to a schedule like this before.

    The point of this training is to help people get employed and stay employed. And these are the standards that an employer is going to apply.