By Dalia Díaz
LAWRENCE, MA — Lazarus House trainees showcased their new cooking skills at the St. Claire Food Pantry and at the end of the meal they were awarded their certificates recognizing the completion of their culinary training.
The Culinary Training Program is offered to adults at or below the poverty level who seek employment in the food services industry.
Executive Head Chef, Elaine Chirichiello, from the Andover Country Club, volunteers her time teaching participants in all facets of the food services field with the help of "guest chefs." After the 160 hours of high-quality training, the Trainees receive 500 paid hours of extensive "real world" experience at local restaurants in the Merrimack Valley region. They also get classroom instruction to prepare for the National Serv Safe Certification examination.
As the class gathered to learn the latest trends in cooking from Chef Guerrero, owner of Café Azteca, you could feel the excitement build and their intense concentration while learning to cook his signature dish, Pollo Poblano.
Guerrero commented, "The students were interested to learn all they could, listened carefully and asked very good questions. The morning went by quickly and through this program I was happy that I had a chance to give back to the Lawrence community."
Michele, a past student in the Culinary program and currently a cook at the Irish Cottage was thrilled to come back to the program and share her experiences "on the line." One day she hopes to become one of the "guest chefs" and teach the class.
Since 1998 more than 72% of the students who have completed the Work Preparation program at Lazarus House have found steady employment.
The Work Preparation program at Lazarus House was developed to move people out of poverty and homelessness. A sponsorship of $3,000 will finance one culinary trainee's 3-month externship at a local restaurant. To find out how you can help e-mail Ray Joyce or call (978) 269-5212.