Pathway from Cook to Chef

ChefStart Culinary & Job Readiness Program

Turn Your Love of Cooking into a Job that Pays!

The Social Development Commission offers a six-week culinary and job readiness training program called ChefStart. Throughout the year, this training program prepares adults with skills to move from a cook at home to a chef in a commercial kitchen. Whether you have a dream of going into the food service or hospitality industry, you will be prepared to begin your path to culinary success.

The ChefStart Culinary and Job Readiness Training Program focuses on adults with a culinary dream who have had employment challenges, have been incarcerated, are experiencing poverty, or other circumstances resulting in difficulty finding employment. This training program gives many the opportunity to get on a new path towards success.

Chef John Damico

Chef John Damico

Culinary Instructor

This program is like no other. Students receive daily hands-on culinary practice as they learn basic food safety and culinary skills in an intimate setting from our culinary instructor John Damico, an experienced executive chef. We couple culinary skills with a job readiness curriculum to prepare our students for the workplace. Students learn about resume writing, interviewing, dress, telephone etiquette, the do’s and don’ts of social media and more.

Our unique program provides assistance with job placement and provides on-going supportive services to students. Students also get the opportunity to be mentored by restaurant owner and experienced Chef Michael Feker, owner of Il Mito, Zesti, and 2 Mesa.

Our program provides:

  • Job Readiness
  • Hands-on culinary workshops
  • ServSafe Certification
  • Food Safety procedures
  • Career exploration in Food Services
  • Guest Speakers
  • Proper Cutting techniques
  • Food Services Practicum

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be 18 years of age or older
  • High school diploma or equivalency

*If you do not have a high school diploma or equivalency we can help! Check out our GED and HSED class and get on your pathway to success. 


If you’ve been holding off on finding out what it takes to make it in the world of cooking, now is your time!

This your time. This is your path.

Chef Michael Fecker

Chef Michael Fecker

ChefStart Mentor

ChefStart Inquiry Form

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CR-Social Development Commission is an Equal Opportunity Employer and Service Provider and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, political affiliation or belief. Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request to individuals with disabilities. If you need this information interpreted to a language you understand or in a different format, please contact La Toya Jones, Equal Opportunity Officer, at 414-906-2823 or Callers who are deaf or hearing or speech-impaired may reach us at Wisconsin Relay Number 711.

Main Office
1730 West North Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53205

6850 North Teutonia Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53209

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