I liked a story in the January 25 Boston Globe. It’s about a gourmet chef taking a job at a homeless shelter and helping to train residents with the marketable skills he knows best.
“Frank Van Overbeeke used to prepare foie gras and filet mignon for the French brasserie crowd as executive chef at Bouchee on Newbury Street,” writes Katie Johnston. “Now he makes cheeseburger meatloaf for the residents at the Pine Street Inn.
“In the shelter’s kitchen, he also oversees the preparation of jerk chicken with pineapple rice pilaf for the Boston Foundation, chicken tikka masala for Simmons College, and baked ziti for doctors at Boston Medical Center.
“Van Overbeeke’s move two years ago from haute cuisine to homeless shelter was a key step in Pine Street Inn’s efforts to develop a corporate catering business to increase revenues to support its food service job-training program.” Read more.
Another job-training program in the culinary arts has been going since 1983 at a prisoner pre-release facility in Concord.
Betsy Levinson writes in a March 29 Globe article, “Four days a week, diners pay $3.21 to enter one of the drab gray buildings at the Concord rotary, drop off their licenses at security, and line up for a seat at one of nine tables in the cafe known as the Fife and Drum.
“Inmates serve as waiters, cooks, and busboys, all trained by chef Kim Luketich. Those who complete the 10-month culinary arts program get a Serve Safe food-handler certificate, making them eligible for work in restaurants.
“ ‘I love it,’ said Jacqueline Friedman, an Acton resident arriving for lunch. ‘It’s an experience. The guys are so nice and are trying so hard.’ …
“ ‘This is a premier program,’ said the superintendent. ‘No other facility has this kind of program that allows the community to come in and eat. We have some elderly who have come daily for years. It’s a great setting, a great atmosphere.’
“ ‘They learn quality skills,’ said Luketich. … “‘They learn social skills. The whole idea is that they will go back into society. That is what we focus on.’ ’’
Read more. As the article says, food service is one of the areas where there actually are jobs today, and it can be a way to get acclimated to dealing with the public.
Photograph: Bill Greene/Globe Staff