Chef Timothy & the Kroc Center of Boston on Defining Student Success
We are fortunate to have many strong partnerships with donors and supporters of Catalyst Kitchens. This year community partner the Jacques Pepin Foundation has helped us establish a membership scholarship fund to support new organizations joining the network. We’re thrilled to welcome our first scholarship recipient, The Salvation Army Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center of Boston, to the Catalyst Kitchens community and share their story with the rest of our network.
What is a Kroc Center?
The Kroc Center of Boston is one of twenty-six throughout the United States, a community center initiative fueled by a $1.5 billion donation from Joan Kroc, wife of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc. As the story goes, architects presented all possible community center features to Joan - gym, auditorium, pool, soccer field, the works. Rather than selecting a few features as expected, Joan responded saying, “let’s do everything.” The result: twenty-six Kroc Community Centers full of community enrichment and development opportunities. In Boston, this includes a community culinary training program designed and run by Chef Timothy Tucker.
Timothy’s Journey to Culinary Training
Chef Timothy has been with The Salvation Army for almost 15 years and knows a thing or two about training culinary students. In 2005, he was hired as the Director of Food Service at The Salvation Army’s Center of Hope Meal Service in Louisville, Kentucky to build a culinary training program from the ground up. Nine years later in 2014, The Salvation Army asked him to do the same in Boston. The Kroc Center of Boston program is now celebrating their 19th class of culinary graduates and Chef Timothy’s original Louisville program just graduated their 70th class! Over that time he has developed his own culinary curriculum called Destination Chef that has been adopted by five affiliate culinary training programs across the country.
What is his underlying approach?
Chef Timothy stresses the importance of treating each student’s needs individually to find the right employment path for each student. With this philosophy in mind, the Kroc Center has placed 89% of their almost 200 student graduates into jobs since the program began in 2014. Clearly, they are doing something right! An important factor is to carefully consider how a student’s unique needs will be met by each potential job opening.
“Every student has different hopes, dreams, and wishes. For us it’s about treating the student as an individual and helping them find where they need to go.” - Chef Timothy Tucker
For example, The Kroc Center of Boston traditionally serves working mothers and over half of their culinary training program enrollees are women. As with many Catalyst Kitchens programs that serve women and working moms, finding employment that also aligns with childcare is a major challenge. The Kroc Center’s strong partnership with the Boston Public Schools helps to place women into stable scheduled employment in daytime school meal operations, providing the right schedule for a single parent.
Perhaps most important, The Kroc Center of Boston is committed to helping students build a new future, whatever that future may look like. “Success looks different for everyone”, says Chef Timothy. One student had been out of work for 16 years, then found a stable job upon finishing the program. Another went on to start their own catering business. The goal is for all students to develop confidence in themselves and pursue new life goals, such as going back to school or starting a new career.
We look forward to having the Kroc Center of Boston as a part of our Catalyst Kitchens community.
Another big thank you to the Jacques Pepin Foundation for establishing this new membership scholarship. We look forward to meeting future scholarship recipients over the course of the year.
Interested in applying for the membership scholarship? Click here to learn more and apply.
Header: Chef Timothy coaching a knife skills class at the Kroc Center of Boston
1st photo: Chef Timonthy coaching student one on one
2nd photo: Chef Andy Husbands, owner of The Smoke Shop BBQ Restaurants in Boston, giving a class on BBQ techniques.
More on the Kroc Center: