KPEP launches Culinary Arts Program

Culinary work group web

Culinary Arts program development workgroup

MCTI, Canteen Services and KPEP partner to enhance employability

Starting this September, KPEP residents in Kalamazoo will have an opportunity to complete an accredited, post-secondary culinary arts program through the Michigan Career and Technical Institute (MCTI).

The program will operate out of KPEP’s Park Street commercial kitchen. Canteen Services staff will serve as instructors, will provide follow up training and will conduct onsite inspections to keep in compliance.

This public-private partnership expands KPEP vocational training programs and is one of several community-based programs that MCTI is developing across the state.

“This is the first program we’ve developed in Kalamazoo,” said MCTI Director Paul Mulka. MCTI is a state and federally approved vocational and technical training program located in Plainwell and is a division of Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS).

“We offer a culinary arts program out of our Pine Lake facility, but this partnership with KPEP allows us to serve people we ordinarily wouldn’t serve through MRS. Historically, we’ve prepared Michigan citizens with disabilities for competitive employment. Now, in partnership with KPEP and Canteen, we’ll be working with people who have other barriers to employment.”

Paul Mulka, Director, Michigan Career Technical Institute

Paul Mulka, Director, Michigan Career Technical Institute

Men and women from KPEP’s facilities will be eligible to apply for the training. Approximately 75 – 100 residents per year are expected to earn their culinary arts certification, including ServSafe certification, according to KPEP Director of Staff Development, Beth Craaybeek. Beth is leading development of the program for KPEP.

Meeting the needs of residents and the community

“Programs like this provide extraordinary benefits, not only for the graduates, but for the community,” Beth said. “There is a strong demand for trained employees in the culinary arts industry. This program will give our residents a leg up when applying for restaurant, food service and other hospitality jobs. And it provides trained employees to fill employer demands.”

Robin Sherman, Vice President at Canteen, has been working with Beth to develop the 10-week, 300-hour competency-based curriculum using the MCTI culinary arts curriculum as a foundation. Tom Brents, culinary arts instructor at MCTI, has consulted on the program.

“We’re focused on meeting industry standards,” said Robin. “We asked ‘what are the most important things to cover in a 10-week competency-based program to lead to employment?’ We’ve developed a very comprehensive course that meets that objective.”

Robin will serve as an instructor and is currently training other Canteen staff members to round out the teaching staff.

While details of course instruction are still being finalized, the program will cover:

  • Basics of food safety and sanitation
  • Measuring and culinary math
  • Basic culinary baking and pastry techniques and working with doughs
  • ServSafe training and certification (accredited by the ANSI-Conference for Food Protection)
  • Food storage
  • Culinary equipment
  • Cooking techniques
  • Culinary implementation
  • Smart shopping and nutritional labels, and
  • Career planning

Canteen got involved as a way to give back to the communities it serves.

Jeff Tiggleman, President, Canteen Services and William DeBoer, President/CEO, KPEP

Jeff Tiggleman, President, Canteen Services and William DeBoer, President/CEO, KPEP

“We operate the food and commissary services within county jails throughout Michigan and northern Indiana and Ohio,” said Craig Tiggleman, CEO at Canteen. Craig and his brother, Jeff, co-own the business and have provided food service to KPEP for several years.

“Partnering with KPEP and MCTI on this community-based initiative makes so much sense,” explained Craig. “Jeff and I are very passionate about the rehab side of corrections. We take pride in the fact that Canteen has always employed inmates and residents in the kitchens we serve. Now we’re formalizing that training, and we believe it will have a generational impact. We’re giving people life and work skills so they can get jobs, earn a living wage, take care of their families and serve as role models for their children. That’s transformational.”

KPEP, MCTI and Canteen plan to use the Kalamazoo-based program as a model for other communities.

“Culinary arts and food service are great options for our residents because laws don’t generally prohibit people with a criminal record from working in the industry,” explained Beth. “Our vision is to expand this training to other locations in the next few years. Berrien County would likely be the next location.

A café is just around the corner

KPEP is also planning an expansion of the program in Kalamazoo with the 2017 opening of a café at the Park St. campus. The café will feature food prepared by students in the program and will offer internship and employment opportunities for KPEP residents and culinary arts program graduates.

“When we launch the culinary arts training program, we’ll focus on the signature items that we ultimately plan to serve at the café,” said Craig. “That will include gourmet baked goods, a variety of healthy salads and freshly made sandwiches.”

Designs are underway for a 2,000-square-foot building that will be home to the café at the corner of Park and Walnut. KPEP is targeting a January opening.

“It will be the perfect transitional vocational program,” said Beth. “Our aim will be to have past residents train and manage current residents at the café. The best way to learn and grow is to mentor others.”