The Salvation Army celebrates 40th Culinary Arts graduation

Recruits graduate from the College of Southern Nevada’s Culinary Arts program.

By Becky Watson – 

The Salvation Army’s Lied Vocational Program celebrated its 40th graduation of 12 culinary arts students Oct. 28 at Russell’s Restaurant on the College of Southern Nevada’s (CSN) Cheyenne campus in North Las Vegas. Since 1997, The Salvation Army and CSN have partnered, providing certification in CSN’s Culinary Arts program to individuals who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The Salvation Army’s Culinary Program provides vocational training to approximately 15 individuals twice a year, in the fall and spring. One semester’s course work is compressed into a 10-week period. These students commit to 50 hours of training per week. Students learn basic cooking and knife skills as part of their final project, and prepare a five-course meal for those who attend the graduation.

“Watching the growth of the individuals we serve through this program, grow into stewards that turn around and serve others through their new craft, is awe-inspiring,” said Phillip Hollon, director of social services, who has observed  the work of these students who came to The Salvation Army in need. “It says so much about each person’s strength and commitment.”

The Culinary Program has a 95 percent job placement rate. Students work closely with the Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation (DETR) Job Connect case managers prior to graduation, who assist them with job placement. Graduates have secured employment at many locations throughout Las Vegas and the Southwest, including the Wynn, Gallagher’s Steakhouse, Bear Lodge Resort, Bryce Canyon and Station Casinos.

Alumni from the first class remain working and succeeding in the industry. A graduate from the inaugural class, Chef Bill Baker, first went to work at Country Pride Restaurant and over the course of 10 years, advanced to Profit Center Manager. He was invited back to work at The Salvation Army in 2009 and became executive chef for The Salvation Army’s Lied Kitchen and Dining Facility in 2012.

“The Culinary Program gave me the basic knowledge and experience to succeed in the industry, and advance to management levels,” Baker said.

Funding for the program comes from DETR Job Connect and The Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary. These organizations fund the CSN course, course materials and health cards for all students going through the program.

The Salvation Army’s Lied Vocational Training Program in North Las Vegas provides employment skills training including work readiness, life skills, remediation, on-the-job training, case management to identify needs and provide supportive services, job search and job placement.

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