Elena & Pepe Piperno with graduates of Cathedral Kitchen's culinary training program

Cooking Up Success

High school and college seniors are not the only ones graduating this season! On July 8, we attended the graduation ceremony for the Cathedral Kitchen (CK) Culinary and Baking Arts Training Program. We are proud to have supported these nine graduates in preparing for new, more hopeful chapters in their lives.

CK’s culinary program trains unemployed and low-income adults for jobs in food service, restaurants, hotels—anywhere there’s a kitchen! Most participants previously faced multiple barriers to employment, from incarceration and lack of skills to health issues and family concerns. 

Supported by the Domenica Foundation and other generous donors, CK provides the 15-week training program absolutely free of charge. Textbooks, chef uniforms, and even shoes are all included. 

CK typically holds three classes a year, with 20 people per class. In 12 years, more than 400 people have gained skills that put them on track for promising careers.

“The Domenica Foundation’s support of Cathedral Kitchen’s Culinary and Baking Arts Job Training Course has helped provide a pathway to life-long self-sufficiency for the students we serve,” said Carrie Kitchen-Santiago, Executive Director. “Together, we’re creating hope in Camden.” 

Graduates are prepared for entry-level jobs in food preparation, including ServSafe food safety certification. More than 86% of graduates get jobs. Members of this year’s class will be working at Cooper Hospital, Virtua Hospital, and Avista Healthcare–all in Camden. All nine achieved ServSafe certification.

Graduates talk about the importance of this training and related support in this CK video. We know you’ll be as inspired as we are!

“Like all the programs we support, this culinary training gives people an opportunity to make the most of their lives,” said Pepe Piperno, founder and president. “CK graduates can find meaningful work that enables them to support themselves and their families.”

And it’s no dead-end job! There’s plenty of room for advancement in culinary arts. Many graduates dream of opening their own food trucks, coffee shops, or restaurants. That’s the kind of dream we like to support!

The culinary arts training is a natural offshoot of CK’s original mission, which was to provide meals to homeless and Camden residents. CK is still fulfilling that mission, and the Domenica Foundation is still supporting it. 

“One of the things we love about working with Cathedral Kitchen is their holistic approach to hunger,” said Elena Piperno, executive director. “It’s not just a soup kitchen. They’re providing meals wherever people are hungry. In the process, they’re giving people the means to provide for themselves. We are proud to be part of this work!”

Cathedral Kitchen culinary arts grads with diplomas