Opening its doors at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Allie’s Place Center for Culinary Education & Employment has learned to be nimble, resilient, and innovative from the beginning. As HFH’s culinary staff gear up to welcome their first co-hort of students for the Center’s core training program, they have taken advantage of the unique circumstances to reach new potential trainees, cultivate fundamental skills, and spur enthusiasm for future programming.
HFH culinary staff have been conducting weekly virtual culinary workshops, providing all participants with necessary ingredients and cooking utensils delivered to their units. The workshops introduced parents to fundamental cooking skills, such as chopping techniques, while allowing them to master a new recipe every week. Noting the particular concerns regarding food insecurity and fresh food access brought on by the pandemic, HFH culinary staff also created a series of weekly cooking tips for parents, in which they detailed how to take advantage of fresh herbs and vegetables grown in Allie’s Place’s on-site garden, an integral component to the Center for Culinary Education & Employment’s slate of programming. Through these cooking tips, which also covered topics like safety and sanitation basics, culinary staff began to connect future students with the skills they’ll need to succeed in the general culinary program. In addition to the cooking tips, culinary staff have been connecting future students to a series of video-based cooking lessons called What’s Cooking at Allie’s Place. Through these videos, students learned about basic cutting skills and dishes. With the success of its virtual programming, the Center recently began its first small, in-person culinary basics class, utlizing appropriate social distancing and safety measures.