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The Community Table offers culinary job training to those in need

Eau Claire (WQOW) – A new partnership between local nonprofits is giving people in need the opportunity to receive free culinary training for a future in restaurants or kitchens.

Pang Moua is a single mom who came to Eau Claire all the way from Thailand with dreams of opening her own restaurant.

“I pretty much was thinking that someday I might get to open my little restaurant. That is kind of a goal that I know is sometimes kind of a big goal, but we’ll see how it goes and I pretty much kind of love cooking,” Moua said.

She wasn’t sure where to start. That’s when Workforce Resource Inc., a private nonprofit with a focus on job training, suggested she try the Community Culinary Academy.

“More technique and more learning,” she said. “For, if someday I really am that ready for my dream, I know how I prepare for it.”

That’s the idea behind the Culinary Academy. Workforce Resource partnered with The Community Table to give anyone looking to start in food service firsthand experience with food prep and cooking, as well as sessions on things like hospitality and hygiene.

“We jumped on it and developed a curriculum for it and got the paperwork going so that we could give people a second chance in life and some job training,” said Peter Raleigh, operations manager at the Community Table.

At the end of the eight-day program, students can take the ServSafe exam. If they pass, they receive certification that makes them desirable employees in any kitchen.

“The volunteers come and they participate four days a week from 9 to 2,” Marianne Gutner, FoodShare employee training manager at Workforce Resource Inc., explained. “A lot of it is hands-on, but it’s also classroom training on Tuesdays where they learn sanitation.”

The budding chefs got to prepare plates for patrons.

All the food is served in the daily meals at The Community Table.

“This is a really great place to volunteer and you see a lot of people that have been enjoying the food and you’re able to help them,” Moua said. “So, it’s really my pleasure to be here.”

Moua loved the training so much, she now volunteers at The Community Table four days a week for extra practice.

The Culinary Academy is just one program of many offered through Workforce Resource Inc.

These courses are free to any member of the Workforce Resource’s Foodshare Employment and Training Program.

To learn more about Workforce Resource Inc., click here.

To find out how to volunteer with The Community Table, click here.

Julia Lopez

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