Culinary Skills program Cooks up Success

If you talk to Darryl these days, he’s likely smiling.

After all, he did just graduate from the Culinary Skills Training Class at Catholic Charities’ Opportunity Center. The program opened doors to stability, independence and, he hopes, it will get him off the floor at Dorothy Day Center.

“This class, it’s an accomplishment,” he said. “It sets the stage for taking off in the right direction. I have a lot to be thankful for.”

A right direction, indeed.

When the class ended, Darryl completed his two-week internship at a popular St. Paul restaurant. Thanks to access to the computer lab at Opportunity Center, Darryl was able to secure a full-time job at a popular new West. St. Paul restaurant. He’ll be making hamburgers and training for an assistant manager position there.

Cooking is part of Darryl’s soul, a skill he first learned in his grandmother’s kitchen and fine-tuned working with Chef Mary at Opportunity Center. While he said breakfast is his favorite, he said food isn’t about the product, but the joy it brings.

“If I cook something and you enjoy it, that’s the satisfaction I get out of it,” he said.

Crossing the river from St. Paul to attend the class every day in Minneapolis wasn’t easy for Darryl, but he said it was worth it. He knew the class would open doors. He earned a diploma for completing the class and also earned a ServSafe certificate for food handling.

“I’m 50. I’ve been in and out of restaurants since I was 15-years-old, but I’ve never had that piece of paper until now,” he said, adding that now that he’s taken the class it’s up to him to work hard and succeed.

Now that he’s on a good path, Darryl is looking forward to leaving Dorothy Day Center and moving into a place of his own.

“It’s going to take time; I’ll just save my paychecks. If I’m able to get up and go to work, then I can get a normal residence,” he said. “It feels good to carry a feather, rather than a burden.”

While Darryl is looking forward to paying his own way in life, he said he is so thankful Catholic Charities was there when he needed help.

“Catholic Charities helped me, housed me, fed me, gave me opportunities to help myself. It’s been a real resource,” he said. “Being homeless, it can happen to anyone, but you can prevail if you have some help.”

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