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Best Crew in Training Denver 2005 - Work Options for Women Program

The food here may not be haute, but it's high-quality. And it isn't dished up by culinary celebrities, but rather by a hardworking group of real service-industry sluggers training for the day when they might be the ones wearing the clean white jackets and the big chef's hats. For the past eight years, Work Options for Woman has staffed the cafeteria at the Denver Department of Human Services with crews of low-income women struggling to come off welfare and find a place for themselves in the workforce. And under the direction of executive chef Jane Berryman and chef-instructor Wendy Vlach, the program has done just that, placing about thirty women per year in good-paying jobs in kitchens across the city. In terms of training, these women couldn't be better prepared. Unlike students in those schoolboy Culinary Arts programs, these cooks serve 300 meals a day to city employees, bang out 800 additional meals a couple of times a week for the Food Bank of the Rockies, and in the process receive comprehensive instruction on kitchen safety, sanitation, menu planning, catering and station cooking. If only all rookie cooks were trained so well.

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