Culinary Job Training: Frequently Asked Questions

What are the days and hours of the training sessions? Where do they take place?

Training sessions are Monday through Friday, 8:00am to 3:00pm, and take place here at the Food Bank in our on-site commercial kitchen.

What does a trainee get for completing the course?

Participants who fulfill the required number of training hours will receive a portfolio including a certificate of completion; a letter of recommendation from the chef instructor; and copies of their resume which we will help them tailor to seek employment in the culinary industry.

If they pass the ServSafe examination, they will also receive ServSafe manager’s-level certification, which is good for five years and is highly sought by employers. Most importantly, they will have received the experience necessary to work in any commercial kitchen, and references from us to attest to that ability.

What kind of jobs does this program prepare trainees to perform?

Ultimately, it depends on the drive and desire of the participant. Some of our graduates have taken prep cook positions; others, line cooks. We even have graduates who now supervise a crew of other cooks, or run their own kitchen operation. Again, those who have the will to succeed will always go further. Our Chef Trainer counsels students on their abilities and steers them into job areas that he feels they will succeed in.

Can I still participate if there are certain days/times I cannot attend?

Trainees must be able to attend course sessions regularly or they cannot benefit from this program. We understand that certain obligations or unforeseen circumstances – such as court dates, family emergencies, illness, etc. – may require absences, but hours missed must be made up in order to graduate. Repeated instances of absences, lateness, or leaving early will result in dismissal from the program. Therefore it is very important that an applicant for this training have childcare arrangements made in advance and access to reliable transportation, and backup plans in case their regular means of childcare or transportation become unavailable.

Can a participant be discharged from this course prior to completion?

Yes – participants who fail to adhere to the program policies, including regular attendance, proper dress, and professional behavior, will be expelled from the course and required to return all course materials.

What are the graduation requirements?

At a minimum, trainees must complete 260 hours of training while adhering to program policies for attendance and behavior.

To be truly successful in this program, participants are required to do just that; participate! It takes more than meeting the minimum expectations in this program to be an attractive candidate to an employer in this job market. The more a trainee puts into this program, the more we can work with them to expand their abilities and develop their marketability for employment.

Application and Selection Process:

Can I request or submit an application on behalf of someone I know?

We can only accept applications from the actual interested party. If you know someone you think would be a good candidate for this program, recommend the program to them and have them fill out the application and submit it to us directly.

What age do you have to be to participate?

Applicants must be 18 years old by the start date of the course. There is no age limit. Participants typically range in age from 18 to 60.

What are the minimum requirements to apply for this program?

All applicants should:

  • be able to read, write, and understand English at a 7th-grade level
  • have the dexterity and endurance necessary to work for hours in a commercial kitchen
  • have housing, transportation, and child-care arrangements in order so that they can reliably attend training sessions
  • be clean and sober for at least the past 6 months
  • not have a history of violent or sexual criminal offenses

What sorts of individuals are appropriate candidates for this program?

We are looking to assist individuals in financial hardship who have a genuine enthusiasm for food service – and can commit to the effort required to gain the skills and professionalism necessary to succeed in the culinary industry.

What qualifies an applicant as being in “financial hardship”?

Only those whose combined household income is unable to sustain themselves and their family, and are unable to obtain a job at a living wage with the skills and experience they currently possess, should apply for this program.

Do you need (or is it helpful) to have prior training or experience in the food service industry?

This course is geared towards those who have only moderate or no training in a professional kitchen, but with a passion for food preparation and a sincere desire and capacity to work in food service as a full-time occupation.

It is important to recognize that this is a job-training program, not a culinary school. Individuals with considerable experience or education in the culinary field would not benefit from this course and will not be accepted.

How will a criminal record or history of substance abuse affect my chance of being selected?

As it is necessary to provide for a safe working environment for our trainees, staff, and volunteers, we cannot accept applicants with histories of violent or sexual offenses. For this reason, applicants who are considered for participation must consent to a background check.

For those who have had records of prior criminal activity or substance abuse, we do look for evidence that such problems are not currently an issue for a candidate, and that they have a support system to help prevent them from relapsing into deleterious behavior.

How will disabilities or health issues affect my ability to participate?

We make every possible effort to assist individuals with handicaps or medical issues to succeed in this training program. Working in a commercial kitchen can require standing for extended periods of time and repetitive hand motions, so applicants should consider whether they have the endurance and dexterity to perform this kind of work and be a viable candidate for employment in this field.

What might disqualify a candidate or reduce chances of being selected to participate in this program?

We recognize that every individual has a unique background and set of challenges; therefore we always evaluate eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Our goal is to help those with obstacles to finding employment gain the skills to overcome those obstacles. Individuals with personal challenges that have made securing employment difficult should not hesitate to apply if they are prepared to put in the effort necessary to rise above them. We only ask that applicants sincerely evaluate if they are prepared to make a serious commitment to the hard work involved, and capable of safely and efficiently working in a busy kitchen environment.

Financial Concerns:

Is there a financial cost associated with the program?

As this is a needs-based program, there is no charge for the training. Trainees, who adhere to the program’s attendance and behavior policies, will receive a weekly stipend to defray living costs during the final five weeks of the course. This stipend, totaling $350, is not a paycheck and does not imply employment at the New Hampshire Food Bank or Catholic Charities of New Hampshire.

Will participating affect my unemployment assistance or welfare?

It may. Anyone interested in applying should inform their unemployment or welfare case manager about their interest in the program and discuss with them if participating in it (or receiving the stipend) would affect their benefits. Often there is not a problem as long as the case managers are notified ahead of time and have a chance to speak with us about the program, so we strongly recommend that applicants keep them informed.

Can I continue to work or seek employment while taking this course?

As long as the trainee is available to attend the course during its regular hours (Monday thru Friday, 8am-3pm), they are free to work during evenings and weekends.

We encourage trainees to seek employment even during the training period, but suggest that if at all possible they complete the training and receive their certificate – so that if the job doesn’t work out, they will still have the benefit of completing the course to help them in future job searches.

Are there any special materials or clothing a trainee needs for this class?

Comfortable, closed-toed shoes with tread are a must. Participants are also asked to wear black pants throughout the course. If trainees do not possess black pants, we can recommend some inexpensive places to get them. Trainees should also remember to bring a writing instrument. Other than that, we provide all other materials and attire that a trainee will need.

What sort of assistance do you offer in finding employment after completion of the course?

In short, we do anything and everything we can to help participants gain employment. We do this by making contact with desired employers on their behalf; offering internships with current trainees; and standing behind our graduates with pride, confident in the proven value and effectiveness of our training.