Pepe Judges Cathedral Kitchen Pasta Competition

Photo of Pepe Piperno tasting one of the pasta creations at Cathedral Kitchen

Founder Pepe Piperno and Carla Severino of Severino Pasta Company taste one of dozens of creations at Cathedral Kitchen’s pasta competition as the chef-in-training looks on.

“Judging Cathedral Kitchen’s pasta competition was a lot of fun,” said Pepe Piperno, Domenica Foundation founder and president. “I thought I had tasted every pasta sauce there is, but these creative cooks came up with six sauces I had never tasted before!”

Pepe was one of two judges at the pasta competition on November 3. “Handmade pasta is always at the top of the list of foods the students in our culinary arts program want to learn,” said Noreen Flewelling, development director at Cathedral Kitchen. 

The students, who will graduate from the culinary program this week, worked in pairs to prepare two tasting plates and one presentation plate each. “I was blown away by their creativity,” said Pepe.

The winning pair took the prize with their fettucine sofrito. “One of the winners will go to work at Cathedral Kitchen as the Chef Jonathan apprentice,” said Pepe. “We provided funding to help support this new position.” The apprenticeship is named for Jonathan Jernigan, former executive chef of Cathedral Kitchen, who died in July.

Speaking of the new apprentice, Pepe said, “Here’s a gentleman who lives in a halfway house. He’s getting his life back on track. Now he has culinary skills and a job. That’s what this program does: It reaches people who fall through the cracks, and it shows them a path.”

 In fact, all of the graduates will be able to get jobs, Pepe noted. “The market is perfect for them.”

But not all of the graduates are going straight into kitchens. A few have decided to go back to school. Their success in the culinary arts program has triggered self-confidence and a desire for greater achievement.

“This is exactly the kind of outcome we want to support,” said Pepe. “It’s one thing to feed people. It’s another to give them skills they can use to get a job that has a future.”