Providence chefs mentor at-risk youth in and out of the kitchen

March 07, 2014
Spring finals are common for high school students, but most don’t include handling sharp knives, hot ovens, or require an eye for plating aesthetics. On Sunday, March 9, 18 teenagers will be putting all they have learned in a five-month, 80-hour culinary training program to the test by preparing and serving lunch for as many as 100 Employment Made Possible Youth Conference attendees:             

12:30 p.m., Sunday, March 9, 2014
Sabin-Schellenberg Professional Technical Center
North Clackamas School District
14450 SE Johnson Rd., Milwaukie

Working with Providence Health & Services executive chefs, the Clackamas Technical Education Consortium students have been introduced to careers in hospitality and basic culinary skills including barista training, knife skills, seasonings and food choices, basic cooking techniques, patient dining, and how to plate and serve. Additional classroom time with C-TEC instructors focused on developing work readiness skills and a portfolio to earn college credits through Clackamas Community College. The partnership is a win-win for youth, the community and Providence, Oregon’s largest private employer.             

Providence Health & Services Regional Executive Chef Kas Naidoo has been mentoring C-TEC students since 2005. “I learned that taking the time to teach from the heart could make a tremendous impact on the lives of at-risk youth and their families,” says Kas. “Because of our Mission, I was inspired to collaborate with C-TEC to build the Providence Advanced Training in Hospitality program.” Kas says the program inspires and develops both students and chefs.             

Martin Pedersen, executive chef at Providence Milwaukie Hospital, was one of eight chefs who volunteered their time to participate in the program. Martin says he knew a skill was in place when he would see one student teaching it to another student. “In addition to culinary skills, we were teaching work habits, that attitude makes a difference, that when you work in a kitchen you are accountable to the chef as your employer and to each other.”              

“It has been absolutely remarkable to watch the students and chefs grow throughout the program,” says Melissa Fox, Training and Employment Coordinator, C-TEC. “Our youth will walk away with tangible work readiness skills, but they will also walk away knowing and experiencing firsthand what it's like to have a local business invest in them as human beings and the emerging workforce.”             

C-TEC Youth Services, a program of Clackamas Education Service District and sponsored by the Workforce Investment Council of Clackamas County, supports low-income youth in completing their basic education and transitioning to employment or postsecondary training. C-TEC partners with local employers to offer short-term, hands-on learning opportunities for youth to gain new skills and explore career pathways. For more information about C-TEC visit www.clackamascareers.com.