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From Culinary Student to Professional Chef

Jason Medeiros and Joseph Fortes

Capital Grille Executive Chef Jason Medeiros (left) and Community Kitchen Student Joseph Fortes (right)

After an accident broke both of his arms, electrician Joseph Fortes needed to find a new career to support his family of three small children.

He discovered Community Kitchen, the culinary job training program at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, and decided to sign up. “I’d always liked cooking,” he says of the decision.

The 14-week curriculum includes a range of training from mastering knife skills to preparing for a job interview. Students gain practical experience by working in a local restaurant or kitchen one day a week as part of their on-the-job training.

Joseph’s placement was at The Capital Grille, a fine dining restaurant and steakhouse in Providence. Here he was able to expand on his interest cutting, preparing and cooking meats.

“[The staff of The Capital Grille] made me feel comfortable,” he said. “They love what they’re doing and they’re really good at it.”

Joseph was also able to work with other Community Kitchen alumni who had been hired by the restaurant. “That was a big motivator for me.”

Staff were impressed with how much Joseph had learned in the 14-week program, compared to employees who take a more traditional culinary education.

The Capital Grille’s Jason Medeiros has been glad to work with Community Kitchen students like Joseph. “Our experience has been awesome. We’ve gotten quality people.”

Asked what it takes to be successful in an environment like The Capital Grille Medeiros responds, “The student has to have a broad base, which is what they get from Community Kitchen.”

Like previous students before him, Joseph made such a good impression, that he was hired after graduating from the program.