“Invite me to your restaurants!” Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said to the Kitchen of Champions graduates, as she concluded her keynote address.

quanLast Thursday, June 20th, Kitchen of Champions Cohort 35 graduated from the St. Vincent de Paul’s intensive culinary program.

graduation1The packed room enjoyed a program with speakers: Mayor Jean Quan; Culinary Services Coordinator, Nic Ming; Executive Chef Instructor, Chef Robert Dorsey; and program Alumni. Stanley Wilkes Jr. (below) from Cohort 32 who now works in the St. Vincent de Paul Dining Room said the experience “changed the course of my life.”

StanWilkesJrThe real treat was hearing from the 17 graduates themselves:

“They gave me an opportunity to make a change in my life.” – Rodney Lewis

marchant“Go out there and cook with love” – Salina Mares (below)

salina“They truly rescued me” – Deserie Martin

Congratulations Cohort 35!

graudationPhotos courtesy of Jose Montoya Photography


Cooking for the Volunteer Appreciation Event

The trainees have been chopping, prepping, sauteing, and baking for the St. Vincent de Paul Volunteer Appreciation Event!

The menu prepared entirely by the Kitchen of Champions cohort was:
Seasonal Salad Bar with Fresh Accoutrements and House Made Dressings
Fresh Bread and Herb Whipped Butter
Herb Crusted Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream and Au Jus
Cavatappi Pasta with Pesto Cream Sauce
Grilled Chicken with Garlic Roasted Baby Potatoes
Dessert Bar with Celebratory Cake

On Friday, the trainees were hard at work prepping. I asked the cohort what it was like to go from cooking a vegetarian meal the day before to learning how to prepare prime rib and they said “we learn something new every day!”

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Saturday, the trainees started in the kitchen at 8am to have everything ready for the big event at 4pm on April 27. Below is the crew serving the finished product:

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Kitchen of Champions Alumnae came back to help with the big event!  2013-04-28 02.26.59Dessert was my favorite part of the meal.  Crepes with homemade whipped cream and strawberries – Bon Appetit!

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Congrats, Louie!

Louie graduated from the Kitchen of Champions’ program in March 2013 and has already accepted a position with Brown Sugar Kitchen, one of the program’s many community partners. Congratulations Louie!


Louie is a great example of the many graduates of the Kitchen of Champions program who continue to keep in touch with us after they secure employment in their field. We encourage many of our culinary students to do, and they serve as examples to current students of the program’s potential.

Graduation – Congratulations Cohort 34!

On April 21st,  we said goodbye to Kitchen of Champions Cohort 34.2013-01-17 02.27.15They dedicated themselves to everyday of their 12 intense weeks of culinary training and did it with a smile.

2013-03-21 04.38.24Lexie is one of these talented and passionate graduates.  In the video below, she shares her experience in the Kitchen of Champions. Her  passion for cooking, dedication, and humble gratitude are shared among the entire class.

(taken at the March 2013 Guest Chef Event – read more about Guest Chef here)

Since its creation in 2007, over 300 students have enrolled in the Kitchen of Champions‘ program, and over 200 have graduated. Of the graduates, over 70% have found jobs. Congrats to Cohort 34 on becoming part of this prestigious group of Alumni/ae!