Culinary Skills Training Program

Do you love to cook? Why not prepare a job in food preparation and cooking with our 16-week career starter program? 

Shepherd’s Table has stood on the frontlines for forty years, meeting the needs of community members experiencing food insecurity, homelessness, and poverty. In 2023, we observed a 32% increase in daily meals served from last year. Many of our meal guests and clients need different kinds of access to educational opportunities for stable employment with livable wages. We have been connecting our clients with employers in our area for years but know that learning critical life skills is the key to creating and walking a path to self-sufficiency.

Through the launch of the Culinary Skills Training Program, Shepherd’s Table will provide community members facing multiple barriers, such as low wages, a lack of real-life skills, or a lack of opportunities, with a path to pursue a career in the food service industry. They will train for a new career while helping hungry Marylanders in need!

What do Culinary Skills Training Program Participants get?

  • 12 weeks of professional training – Students learn basic cooking techniques, life skills, discipline in the workplace, and professionalism
  • ServSafe certification – This certificate confirms to prospective employers that graduates are experts in food safety
  • Internship Placement – The program will work to find a four-week internship for the program participants that hopefully will lead to employment opportunities
  • A chef’s starter kit – Each student receives a set of chef’s whites and a professional-grade knife kit to launch into a new career.

Eligibility & Application

Please download the application, fill it out, and send it to our Program Coordinator, Arvid Muller, via email at [email protected].

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Legally eligible for employment
  • Be currently unemployed or underemployed
  • February 2nd – Interest Meeting between meals in PROGRESS PLACE Dining Room
  • February 9th – Culinary Skills Training Program Applications are due
  • February 12-14th – Interview of semi-finalists
  • February 16th – Decision Day, notify session one participants
  • February 22/23rd – Culinary Skills Onboarding (4 hrs.) – tour, expectations, receive all program supplies and uniforms.
  • March 4th – First Day of Session 1
  • May 24th – Session 1 Showcase Dinner
  • May 27th – Externship begins
  • June 22nd – Graduation
  • Stable housing
  • Be able to read, speak, and comprehend English
  • Be able to stand for 8 hours a day
  • Able to lift and move 50 pounds
  • No outstanding warrants
  • Be able to work 40 hours a week between the hours of 6 AM and 8 PM Monday through Sunday

Program Features

Each week will cover different topics and divide the day into periods (below). There will be a skills test every week on Friday, which will be online. We will be at Progress Place and Methodist Church for the courses.
Week of March 4th
  • Curriculum: Kitchen Safety, equipment knowledge, self-empowerment, getting to know you
Week of March 11th
  • Curriculum: Cold prep, salads, sandwiches, self-care
Week of March 18th
  • Curriculum: Veggies, classifications, how they grow, household skills
Week of March 25th
  • Curriculum: Mother sauces, eggs, stocks, time management
Week of April 1st
  • Curriculum: Poultry fabrication, cooking, communications (oral, computer)
Week of April 8th
  • Curriculum: Seafood, fish fabrication, coping skills
Week of April 15th
  • Curriculum: Beef, financial literacy
Week of April 22nd
  • Curriculum: bread, customer service skills
Week of April 29th
  • Curriculum: Bread, pastries, interpersonal skills
Week of May 6th
  • Curriculum: International/regional cooking, life management, decision making
Week of May 13th
  • Curriculum: Review, job readiness
Week of May 20th
  • Curriculum: Final practical, job readiness
May 31st
  • SHOWCASE Dinner
Students will have a 4-week externship at partner restaurants and will be required to work at least 20 hours a week. Each week, the restaurant partner must complete an evaluation of the participant.

Program Location

Progress Place
8106 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20910


Christina Moore, Director of Meal Services, [email protected], 301-585-6463 x 216

This program is generously supported by the following: