By Michele Kane, CALPIA Chief of External Affairs

Call them the next top chefs, female offenders at the Folsom Women’s Facility graduated from the Culinary Arts Management program on October 18. This program managed by the California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA), in partnership with CDCR and Cosumnes River College prepares women for successful careers.

“This is not fast food, this is top-of-the-line culinary arts training where you can earn college credits,” said Milo Fitch, CALPIA’s Chief of Workforce Development Branch. “This program has a higher passing rate than anywhere on the street and with the skills they learn they can run their own restaurant someday.”

Women in the program can earn up to 13 college units, taking courses that include: Introduction to Culinary Arts Management, Culinary Sanitation & Safety, Quantity Food Production, Food Theory and Preparation, and Culinary Customer Service. The Culinary Arts program is part of CALPIA’s successful Career Technical Education portfolio, which has a cumulative recidivism rate of 7.13%.

Donning their white chef coats, the women prepared a mouthwatering menu that included stuffed mushrooms with ground pork, grilled shrimp wrapped in pancetta, butternut squash soup, braised short ribs with crispy onions, and pumpkin spice mousse.

The women invited family who got to sample their savory creations.

“I am very impressed and amazed at the progress of her success,” said Yolanda Roberts whose daughter graduated from the program.  “She wants to be a chef and possibly own her own restaurant after she gets out.  We are a family who likes to cook and now she can take it to the next level.”

The program taught by CALPIA Industrial Supervisor Vincent Moralez and Cosumnes River College Chef Instructor Jason Doolittle started last year, and the two enjoy teaching others about the culinary industry.

“Graduates from this prison program scored a half grade point higher than the average student on the outside,” said Cosumnes River College Dean Kim Harrell. “I encourage all of you to keep moving forward on this positive path and finish your degree.”

Other speakers included FWF’s Associate Warden Tracy Johnson who pointed out that women in the program enrolled in 30 college courses total.  “These students are making huge changes in their lives.”

Folsom State Prison Warden Rick Hill congratulated the graduates.

“I have to commend all of you.  You did it and you succeeded,” said Hill. “What you have demonstrated here will carry you through life.”