History & FAQ
Encore Catering was launched in 2001 as a revenue generating arm of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Community Culinary School of Charlotte (CCSC). CCSC provides a free culinary arts training and job assistance program for adults who have experienced barriers to employment. Whether that barrier is lack of training or a history of incarceration, homelessness or substance abuse, our students have changed their lives and are eager to enter the food service industry.
Born in Charlotte’s historic SouthEnd community, Encore and CCSC shared a kitchen with Friendship Trays until moving to Monroe Road in 2014. With the exception of our Chef and administrative personnel, Encore Catering is staffed by students and graduates of CCSC.
Q. How can a catering company be a nonprofit organization?
A. Encore catering is not a stand-alone organization, but a division of the Community Culinary School of Charlotte. Our mission is to extend the mission of the School by a) employing its students and alumni, b) giving our students a “real-world experience” opportunity in preparing food and beverage products that are sold for fair market value to the public, and c) returning our profits from catering to support the mission of the school.
Q. So where does the money go?
A. We employ a classically trained and experienced Executive Chef to supervise our company, an office manager to handle the day-to-day business of our company, and full-time and part-time staff, mostly Culinary School students and alumni, who produce our products. We also employ a part-time bookkeeper who manages our funds and prepares regular audit materials to authenticate our profits and losses in accordance with our mission.
As a business offering goods and services to the public, we incur the same financial responsibilities that any other catering service does, including insurance, employee benefits, maintenance and upkeep on our company vehicles, equipment maintenance and repair fees, and normal costs of food and beverage products. When all of our expenses have been paid, we make a substantial donation back to the School. The average number of students in each class is 12-16, and it takes roughly $4,425 per student to take each one through the 14-week Community Culinary School program.
Q. Don’t you get a lot of products donated?
A. The Community Culinary School of Charlotte depends largely on the goodwill of companies, other nonprofit organizations and private individuals. However, as a business selling goods and services to the general public, Encore Catering purchases all of the products that we sell from reputable vendors at fair market value, just as any other foodservice business would. And like all of our competitors, we go out of our way to practice good stewardship of our resources and get the best pricing we can from our vendors.
Q. Does “nonprofit” mean that you are a discount caterer?
A. We would love to just give our products and services away to draw attention to the difference our organization makes in peoples’ lives every day! But our purpose is to earn resources with which we can continue our legacy of changing lives.
We monitor our competitors’ prices, and we keep our prices competitive. Our greatest selling point is that the resources you spend with Encore go directly to furthering a worthwhile mission of changing lives!
Q. Do the students and alumni that you employ get paid?
A. Certain Encore functions are built into our educational curriculum, and for those functions students are not compensated. In fact, as the school’s program is offered at no cost to students, certain duties are expected as “payment” for their tuition. However, the majority of work that is done by current students is paid. The wages that we pay our students and alumni are comparable to the wages that they would earn in a similar operation anywhere else in our region. We believe strongly in equipping and empowering people to succeed in all areas of their lives!
Q. How can I learn more about what you do to better the lives of your students and the communities around them?
A. Contact the Community Culinary School of Charlotte at 704-375-4500 to find out when you can stop by and see what we do! Or check us out on the web at www.communityculinary.org. We honor your time and interest in supporting us. Thank You!