|Marco Lopez graduated from the Chicago’s Community Kitchens program in September.|
Marco Lopez, 22, is driven and passionate about succeeding. He always aspired to be a chef, but his plans were derailed in March, when he was let go from his job at a catering company.
Unable to find a job and struggling to make ends meet, he discovered the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Chicago’s Community Kitchens program.
“If I hadn’t found CCK, I might still be looking for a job. There’s just nothing available right now,” he said.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens is a 14-week foodservice training program for unemployed and underemployed individuals. The program gives students a solid foundation in food preparation, as well as professional skills training, such as resume building.
Marco saw CCK as a lifeline, a chance to improve his skills while opening up new opportunities in his future.
“I just want to get better at what I’m doing,” he said.
During the 14-week program, Marco needed to arrive at the Food Depository every weekday by 7:30 a.m. He worked in the kitchen, learning how to chop, grill, sauté, and measure food. He also worked in the classroom, passing required culinary math tests, and earning his ServSafe food sanitation certificate.
After finishing the day around 3:30 p.m., Marco started his second day – to make money to support himself, he delivered newspapers from 8 p.m. – 2 a.m. every day, before getting up around 5 a.m. to start over again.
“It wasn’t easy,” he said. “But it was absolutely worth it. Getting more experience in the kitchen is really important to me.”
Marco’s efforts were rewarded. He graduated from the Chicago’s Community Kitchens program in September and is now working at Farmhouse Restaurant in Evanston.
“It’s all about being dedicated. This program gave me more experience, more confidence and a drive to be better. It was great.”
For more information on the Chicago’s Community Kitchens program, visit chicagosfoodbank.org.