How We Train

Is the Community Culinary School the place where you can start building the next chapter in your life? Here are some straight answers from Chef Ron to the questions that prospective students often ask.

Who is this school for?

The Community Culinary School of Charlotte is for adults who have experienced barriers to employment. Those barriers can be stereotypical drug or alcohol addiction or homelessness. They can also be incarceration — and that record follows you around.

The 14-week training program in the culinary arts can really help recreate these adults’ lives.

What do you expect from me?

There are two types of loyalties we try to have the students understand.

The first loyalty is: Be loyal to the profession. If you’re going to come to school every day and tell us you’re interested, then show us you’re interested. Let’s talk about food. Let’s read the Charlotte Observer food section. If we have access to the Internet, let’s go into food sites. Let’s watch the Food Network on TV. Let’s talk food. Let’s get into the culinary side of life.

The second loyalty is: If we find you a position, which we will if you want one, be loyal to that place of business. The school firmly believes that if you accept a position for, say, $8.50 to $9.00 an hour, that if you’re there and you do the deal there – and the deal is being on time, having a good attitude, and helping support the business – that you should be able to command anywhere from at 15% to a 25% increase within a year, if you practice the two types of loyalty along with a good solid work ethic.

We ask that the students stay focused, that they stay in touch with the school and allow us to help them, and in turn we’ll get them the tools they need to be successful – everything from chef coats to knife kits to the understanding of how to give job separation notice – how you quit a job, that type of stuff, where you give proper notice, all without burning bridges. That skill is important too, because the person you’re working for now might two years from now be manager in another situation where you’d like to get a job.

We ask that the students allow themselves to be drug-free and alcohol-free – both while they are students and to carry that further after they graduate.

We ask that they just hang on and let it happen – allow us to do what we do best, which is to offer them another view of the culinary industry, and to find them work that will help improve their lives.

How do I pay?

Let me tell you how you pay. There is a fee for the school, I’m not going to lie to you. There is an absolute fee to the school. But we’re not going to exchange any money. It’s more of a barter system. Here’s the way you pay for the school:

Since its founding under the name Charlotte Community Kitchen, this school has used its culinary skills to prepare food for others. In the early years, we delivered meals to families and agencies where it was needed. For many years, students helped in the preparation or packaging of meals at Friendship Trays, the local meals-on-wheels program. For a number of years, crews of students have prepared food and then taken it to the Men’s Shelter. Every such assignment gives students a way to polish their culinary skills, learn how to deal with the public, and to give back to the community. That’s the way you pay for your training.

Describe the typical school day

The morning begins at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

In the classroom, Monday through Thursday, we do everything from soup stocks to sauces, to knife skills, to mis en place workshops, other cooking techniques. It will be a lot of hands-on, participatory classes, but we will also have chefs doing demos.

Every Tuesday, we offer life-skills workshops – how to stand shoulder to shoulder with someone who might rub you the wrong way, how to write a resume, how to understand body language.

Generally on Fridays, we’re prepping for Encore Catering, learning skills, eating, cleaning up and then are gone. It’s a short day. So Friday afternoons are the times you schedule your dental appointments, your doctor appointments, your car maintenance, your house maintenance.

Will I be home when my kids come home from school?

You’ll be signing a contract that says you’ll be at the Community Culinary School from 8 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. Most days, you’ll be out between the hours of 1:30 and 3.

If needed to stay later or if needed to participate in evening events you will get ample notice, and we wouldn’t want you to participate in those events if we didn’t think it would be beneficial to your chosen career.

If the students don’t pay, where does the money come from?

The Community Culinary School of Charlotte operates on grants and gifts from corporations, institutions, churches, businesses and individual donors. Grants from government agencies support job placement and other services. We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent of the law. Class 1 began in March 1998 and we’ve been operating continuously since then.