California Men’s Colony (CMC) recently saw the 10th Culinary Arts class graduate the program.
Four years ago, CMC and Cuesta Community College teamed up to offer incarcerated students an opportunity to learn valuable skills that can help them post-incarceration.
The Culinary Arts Program, accredited through the college, is taught on-site by Chef Rosanne Feild.
The real-world skills they learn can be applied at all levels of food preparation in the service industry.
Before the program began, a $108,000 grant was used to purchase a mobile kitchen unit.
The mobile kitchen, used solely by program participants, allows students to have access to an assortment of modern kitchen appliances. This equipment is not typically available in an institutional setting.
The curriculum teaches students how to:
- read recipes
- make proper measurements
- use fraction-based arithmetic to ensure recipe ingredient amounts are increased or decreased properly.
Once the basics are covered, students learn how to cook meals using a variety of methods. These include smoking, deep-frying, braising, roasting and other commonly used culinary techniques.
In celebrating the program’s 10th graduating class, students prepared a meal for special guests who have supported the program over the years.
The meal included vegan and non-vegan menu items such as:
- lentil soup
- chimichurri chicken or Portobello mushroom sandwiches on fresh-made focaccia bread
- Asian slaw, potato wedges and assorted desserts.
Incarcerated student Frederick Young said the program has shown him everyone needs help.
He said the rehabilitative programs and educational opportunities offered today by CDCR give people a real chance to succeed after parole.