Culinary Training Program



at Groundwork Kitchen

Paul’s Place offers a free culinary training program at Groundwork Kitchen. We prepare eligible Baltimore community members to be competitive, qualified employees in local food service operations. Staff utilize case management support to mitigate employee performance issues that stem from poverty and oppression. By targeting structural barriers to employment, we endeavor to reach into a previously untapped portion of the workforce: those who would otherwise have been excluded from careers in food service due to oppressive power systems. 

The actual training includes marketable front of house and back of house skills as well as job readiness and soft skills classes. Students earn stackable, portable industry-recognized credentials from Servsafe and American Hotel and Lodging Educational Institute to validate their skills. The program prepares students for the ServSafe Manager certification exam, which opens job opportunities in growing industries in Baltimore that pay above minimum wage. 

Experienced Chef Trainers teach students of all prior experience and skill levels, offering a combination of classroom-based and hands-on culinary training divided into three progressive tiers. Students are introduced to a food service essentials curriculum informed by input from employer and industry partners.

The curriculum includes: 

  • food safety
  • kitchen math
  • basic cooking applications
  • product identification
  • plating
  • baking basics
  • knife skills
  • customer service 
  • position-specific instruction (cook, restaurant server)

We also teach from Rouxbe, an online culinary education provider. Our students have lifetime access to additional Rouxbe lessons. Chef Trainers regularly assess each participant’s technical and transferable skills demonstrated throughout the program. Students hone their culinary skills by performing a variety of hands-on training activities including knife cuts, catering, menu planning, following recipes, and preparation of both bulk meals and small batch cooking.  In order to graduate, students demonstrate proficiency in:

  • knife skills
  • chicken fabrication
  • beef fabrication
  • plating
  • basic pasta making
  • moist-heat cooking
  • dry-heat cooking
  • mise en place
  • production from recipes
  • time & temperature control
  • cleanliness
  • kitchen safety practices
  • labeling
  • work-ready quality production
  • rotating weekly challenges

Culinary and Transferable Skills Training: We have a fast-paced curriculum that starts in the training classroom. Students prepare for food safety certification exams, practice knife skills, and dive into food service basics to prepare for hands-on training. It’s not just about cooking in this program. Job Readiness and Life Skills classes and activities make up core parts of the curriculum. After class, students focus on applying soft skills to their work in the kitchen. Core competencies include attendance, customer service, time management, responsibility, being coachable and teamwork. CASH Campaign introduces students to different topics in financial management and wealth-building.

Hands-on training: Students will demonstrate mastery of the core competencies while gaining experience in a professional kitchen. The kitchen is the setting for cooking demonstrations from staff and guest chefs, hands-on practicals focusing on specific culinary techniques and where students practice bulk meal preparation for Paul’s Place hot lunch guests and small batch cooking from Training Chef’s curated menus.  Through these training activities, students are introduced to global cuisines while practicing a variety of fundamental culinary applications and techniques.

Case Management: Paul’s Place leverages its expertise in wraparound services and case management to meet participants’ needs and improve participant outcomes. A full-time case manager provides individualized support and coaching to enrolled students throughout the training program. In acknowledgement of the challenges participants face, we provide multiple supports to all participants including transportation assistance, breakfast and lunch daily, uniforms and supplies, stipends, and on-site shower and laundry access. We strive to equip students with the necessary resources to meet workplace expectations.

Job Placement and Retention Services: Our Workforce Development Manager leads students through individual and group job readiness preparation including two job readiness assessments, resume and interview preparation, instruction and coaching on professionalism, navigating career pathways, goal-setting, job search techniques, job application assistance as well as providing direct referrals to employers. Job Search Training activities are facilitated by staff, employer and industry partners and peers (program alumni). The curriculum focuses on long-term planning and career development coupled with the structured case management support to help participants envision their career path and consider entry-level employment opportunities in the context of long-term goals and career advancement. Upon graduation students receive job placement assistance and job retention support for 2 years after job placement. We offer lifetime job placement and Servsafe Manager recertification for alumni. Our staff stay in touch with employed graduates through scheduled outreach to provide additional coaching and access to case management support or financial assistance to resolve any barriers that may jeopardize participants’ sustained employment.

To be eligibel for our program you must be:

  • 18+ years old
  • Want to work as an employee in the food service industry in the next 2-3 months
  • Able to commit to Monday – Friday 9:15 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. in-person schedule
  • Authorized to work in the U.S.
  • Earning less than Baltimore City Area Median Income to be eligible for our program


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