Chicago’s Community Kitchens is a free 14-week job training program for unemployed and underemployed adults in Cook County. The program prepares students for a productive career in the culinary and hospitality fields. While training for their future, students gain hands-on experience in a variety of culinary techniques as they prepare lunch every day and participate in catering opportunities.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens students complete 12 weeks of intensive training in our modern commercial kitchen, followed by a two-week internship in a local professional kitchen. The program is effective at reducing unemployment and offering the first step for a steady career: 90% of program graduates from the past year are currently employed.
Since beginning in 1998, more than 1,300 students have graduated from Chicago’s Community Kitchens. Graduates have gone on to work in some of Chicago’s leading professional kitchens, including Hot Chocolate, Nico Osteria, Urbanbelly, and more. Learn more about our employment partners.
Profiles of Our Graduates
Chicago’s Community Kitchens was instrumental in getting Julie Beland back on her feet after her release from prison. She has a stable job at Oak Park’s Buzz Cafe, where she was recently promoted to a full-time manager. Watch Julie’s story on ABC7 Chicago.
Ximenio completed the Chicago’s Community Kitchens program in 2017. Now he works in the kitchen at Harold Richards High School. “I know how to do just about everything in that kitchen, and it’s all thanks to CCK,” he says.
After completing the Chicago’s Community Kitchens program, Corry Simmons got a job as a line cook at Urbanbelly, Chef Bill Kim’s Asian fusion restaurant. Corry was able to save up enough money to send his daughter to college. His next career step took him back to Chicago’s Community Kitchens. As a Production Assistant, he shares his skills and experience with new classes of students. Read his story and watch the video.
Chicago’s Community Kitchens alum Terrance Bertrand graduated from the program and got a job at Quartino Ristorante. Chicago’s Best on WGN TV featured Terrence and Chicago’s Community Kitchens in their holiday episode. Watch the story.
Cooking with Chicago’s Community Kitchens
Chef Emily Cook and student Leticia Brown show you how to prepare sweet potato biscuits in this video. Get the full recipe and read Leticia’s story on our blog.
Frequently Asked Questions
The criteria for being admitted into the program are:
- Be 18 years of age or older
- Be a resident of Cook County
- Have a valid Social Security Number
- Have a 6th grade level math and reading capacity
- Demonstrate a real and continuing interest in developing a career in the foodservice industry
- Successful completion of the application, basic skills test, drug and alcohol assessment and interview
- Be unemployed or underemployed and in need of job training
- Be available Tuesday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
- No high school diploma or GED required
Chicago’s Community Kitchens takes place at the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s facility located at 4100 W. Ann Lurie Place in Chicago.
- Hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art industrial kitchen
- Transportation assistance
- Breakfast and lunch for the duration of the training period
- Employment and job readiness classes
- ServSafe® sanitation course
- Textbook, study materials and uniform
- Graduates eligible for job placement assistance
- Two-week unpaid internship in a commercial kitchen during the final weeks of the program. Past internships have included a corporate cafeteria, hospital, hotel, catering company or restaurant.
- Professional résumé and letter of recommendation signed by staff