Last month, NBC 7 and Telemundo 20 awarded $225,000 to several non-profit community organizations as part of our "Project Innovation" presented by the NBC Universal Foundation. $25,000 of that went to Kitchens for Good, a catering company whose cooks have checkered pasts in San Diego.
Kitchens for Good is a Culinary Arts program that has changed Freddy Perez’s life for good. Here is where he learned to appreciate vegetables and master the meats.
Perez aspires to be a chef in a hotel in another country, something he didn’t think to be a couple of months ago.
“I was in a treatment program because I couldn’t stay clean on probation,” Perez said.
Perez is a convicted felon.
Kitchen for Good offers a 12-week program for felons, homeless, addicts, and others who are looking for a brighter future.
“They look at you in such a different way, there’s no stereotyping, there’s no stigmatism,” Perez said.
Aviva Paley co-founded Kitchens for Good in 2016.
“Our students get to shed those labels of their past,” Paley said.
Paley said they have more than 300 graduates and cater everything from corporate meetings, Quinceañeras, galas and more.
86 percent of them are still cooking in top restaurants.
“And they’re now becoming management and hiring other students to work for them,” Paley said.
Perez is one week from graduating and already has three interviews at top-flight restaurants.
“The aura here, the way the people are, the good vibes that come through here have changed me inside,” Perez said.
Paley said they get about 60 percent of their funding from catering events all around San Diego, while the rest comes from grants like the NBC 7 Project Innovation grant they received earlier this year.