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Apr 5, 2013 10:25 AM by Samantha Ptashkin

Never too many cooks in the Caridad Community Kitchen

TUCSON- From the moment you walk in to the Community Food Bank's Caridad Kitchen, it's controlled kitchen chaos.

Pots clanging, knifes chopping, stoves sizzling.

At the center of all the action is Executive Chef Jon Wirtis, helping his students sharpen their culinary skills. "We're a 10 week culinary training program that helps out people who are unemployed, underemployed, or who are just looking for a career change," Wirtis says.

The classes run Monday thru Friday from 8am to 4pm.

Students spend two hours in the classroom, learning how to build their resumes and search for jobs. The other six hours are spent in the kitchen. "A good applicant is dedicated and I want them to be really convinced that they can make a change themselves," Wirtis says.

Anita Olis is a mother of four, who has been out of a job for the past year and a half. "Sometimes you feel a little down on yourself, you get discouraged," Olis says.

But now in her eighth week of the program, Olis hopes to pursue a career in the catering business. "They make you believe in yourself and really try to encourage you," Olis says.

The best part is the students aren't just helping themselves.

They typically cook about 400 meals a day and it all goes back to community members in need. "They go to different churches, shelters, and now we just started working with the Boys and Girls Club," Wirtis says.

The Culinary Training Program is free, but students have to apply. You may apply in person at 845 N. Main Avenue, Tucson, AZ.

Or contact Debbie at (520) 882-5641 or email dpurdon@communityfoodbank.org.

Wirtis says they accept six to 12 students per 10 week training period.

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