Groundwork Kitchen Spotlight: Empowering Culinary Careers in Baltimore with Ellen Levy and Shavonya Bracken
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Groundwork Kitchen Spotlight: Empowering Culinary Careers in Baltimore with Ellen Levy and Shavonya Bracken

Step into the world of creativity and imagination with 'The Truth in This Art' podcast, led by your host, Rob Lee. Our guest today is Ellen Levy, the Director of Groundwork Kitchen, a groundbreaking culinary arts training program in Baltimore's Pigtown community. As the program celebrates the graduation of its first cohort, Ellen and the dedicated staff, including Training Chef Shavonya Bracken and Executive Chef Kimberly Triplett, have nurtured students aged 18 to early-60s, equipping them with essential front-of-house and back-of-house culinary skills. This free 12-week program not only creates a skilled workforce for Baltimore's restaurants, hospitals, and catering businesses, but it also fosters confidence, purpose, and self-pride in the students. With a vision of providing 122 jobs and $12.2 million in annual economic activity, Groundwork Kitchen continues to shape the culinary landscape in Baltimore, actively recruiting for its upcoming cohort in January.

ABOUT Groundwork Kitchen

Groundwork Kitchen’s program, operated by Paul’s Place, is founded on the nationwide initiative of FareStart’s Catalyst Kitchens, a proven model implemented in nearly 60 other facilities across the country. The program utilizes four integral program components:  culinary skills training, life skills training, hands-on experience, and individualized case management support and coaching throughout training, job placement, and for six months after students begin their post-graduate careers.

Throughout this conversation:

  • Explore the transformative impact of Groundwork Kitchen's culinary training program, preparing individuals for thriving careers in the dynamic food service industry.
  • Delve into the immersive hands-on training experience offered within a restaurant environment, where participants receive comprehensive support to surmount employment obstacles.
  • Discover the success stories of program graduates as they venture into diverse sectors of the culinary industry, from restaurants and catering to healthcare, showcasing the program's versatility and efficacy.
  • Uncover the key attributes of collaboration, desire, and grace that play pivotal roles in fostering success in both leadership and the realm of culinary training at Groundwork Kitchen.

Join us for a captivating episode as Ellen and Shavonya join host Rob Lee to discuss Groundwork Kitchen's culinary training program. The program aims to prepare individuals for careers in the food service industry and provide support to overcome employment barriers. The training takes place in a restaurant environment, offering hands-on experience and the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials. The first cohort recently graduated, and the program has seen success in helping students gain employment in various sectors of the culinary industry. Levy and Bracken emphasize the importance of collaboration, desire, and grace in leadership and culinary training.

Mentioned in this episode
Groundwork Kitchen

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This program is supported (in part) by a grant from the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

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Original music by Daniel Alexis Music with additional music from Chipzard.

Episode illustration by Alley Kid Art.

About "The Truth In This Art"

"The Truth In This Art," hosted by Rob Lee, is a podcast that explores the essence of creativity and its community impact, amplifying artists' voices and their profound stories.

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Creators and Guests

Rob Lee
Rob Lee
The Truth In This Art is an interview series featuring artists, entrepreneurs and tastemakers in & around Baltimore.
Ellen Levy
Ellen Levy
Director of Groundwork Kitchen, a groundbreaking culinary arts training program in Baltimore's Pigtown community.
Shavonya Bracken
Shavonya Bracken
Training Chef at Groundwork Kitchen