Nominated by co-worker, Hannah Hill:
Chef Marisa rises to every new challenge as they come & always performs with the utmost excellence, compassion, professionalism & style. Chef Marisa runs two adult sessions – in the fall & winter – of the Bread Line’s culinary job training program, Stone’s Throw. These are held at our soup kitchen in Fairbanks, Alaska. Marisa has polished the class curriculum, works closes with community life skills coaches & local restaurants to enhance the learning experience of our students. She teaches in the classroom & the kitchen while also holding space for any student or graduate who needs to talk. In the summer, Chef Marisa leads a very popular culinary program inside the Fairbanks Youth Facility for the young people incarcerated there.
Chef Marisa also runs the Bread Line’s earned-income catering arm, working with students & graduates to showcase their impressive culinary skills in the community in a great number of ways – everything from high-end caterings to “Chef At The Market demos at the local farmer’s market. Additionally, Chef Marisa – with her corporate culinary background – manages the weekly food ordering & deliveries for all the Bread Line’s anti-hunger programs. Her skills in product control & pricing has kept our organization’s overhead low despite serving at an all time high.
Our organization is so small – one of the smallest in the Catalyst Kitchen’s family – but we do BIG work in our remote community every day. Chef Marisa leads by example through her professional talent, incredible work ethic, even keel, deep compassion, great humor & mission motivation. In the face of profound & systemic challenges, her commitment to serving out students at the highest possible level – always meeting them where they are at – knocks down barriers to their success. She is a champion of her students. Chef Marisa makes the Bread Line a stronger, better place by being on this team. Her work leading the Stone’s Throw culinary job training program is making a measurable impact on our community as a whole.
Chef Marisa’s methods increased post-graduation employment to an astonishing 85%! Early in the pandemic, she pivoted an active class to online, which allowed students in assisting living facilities (half of the class) the flexibility to continue classes even during lock downs… 100% of that class graduated & found employment. Chef Marisa connected our culinary program to Fairbanks’ local literacy organization, helping students achieve their GED, get resume assistance & build critical computer literacy during their coursework. She also connected with Fairbanks’ local disability/access organization & offers free kitchen skills to their participants. Presently, Chef Marisa is in the process of developing a whole new baking program in order to have opportunity for people with limited in-person availability (specifically working parents) as well as a barista program for young people coming out of incarceration.
Every year since 2015, our network has honored the amazing work of someone making a difference and changing lives through work in a member program. Read about their stories by clicking below.
Congratulations to our 2022 winner, Marisa Peña of Breadline, Alaska, and their Stone’s Throw Cafe and training program. Chef Marisa rises to every new challenge as they come & always performs with the utmost excellence, compassion, professionalism & style. We applaud her work, and look forward to delivering this years grant and working with her team on a few additional perks to send her way.
Her day begins with heading into YouthWorks’ kitchen, checking in with trainees and staff members to get the crew prepared for making 150 emergency shelter meals, including breakfast, lunch and dinner. Afterwards, she cooks in-house meals for YouthWorks’ crews and office staff. While leading those tasks, she manages a team of 15-20 staff and trainees throughout the day as they prepare and distribute meals for numerous sites across Santa Fe.
When hitting a rough patch in life, a listening ear and compassionate spirit can make all the difference. Meet Carla Domingo, workforce development employment navigator at Forge City Works, a longtime restauranteur turned teacher and counselor for youth and adult culinary training students. She has walked alongside students for six years throughout their transition from student to intern to employee and is our 2019 Catalyst for Change Award winner.
We recognize that it takes a village to drive successful culinary job training programs; from delivering life skills to demonstrating knife cuts in the kitchen, there are many hands involved in supporting students. The Catalyst for Change Award was created in 2015 to recognize exemplary individuals within our network for their dedication and embodiment of their organization’s mission. We want to shine a spotlight on those dedicating their time, passion, and resources to guide their students towards a successful career path in foodservice.
Idalia Nuñez has been a part of the SHFBCF Culinary Training Program since its very beginning, in 2013, and has helped create a program where “students are valued, respected, supported and trained for a healthy self-sufficient life.” Through her diligent efforts, the program has maintained a remarkable 100% job placement rate for graduates over the five years of operations. Idalia is committed to the Life Skills portion of the curriculum and is “always seeking out and fostering excellent relationships with employers and working tirelessly to secure sustainable streams of revenue to keep the program strong and meaningful.”
Tasheena Butler directs all culinary training activities for Liberty’s Kitchen’s Youth Development Program, providing disconnected youth with workforce and life skills training to become employed and self-sufficient. She is described by her colleagues as “the lynchpin of Liberty’s Kitchen,” a “charismatic leader” who is an innovative and skilled teacher.
The first recipient of this award is the very special Chef Marianne Ali, Director of Culinary Job Training at DC Central Kitchen. Marianne embodies the spirit of this award; she has given her heart and talent to supporting student goals and the success of DCCK.